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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Audio Logging a Space

 Can we think of other spaces that might be logged this way?

Automatic Audio Loggers Map the Sound of Norway

Imperial College London (U.K.)

Hayley Dunning, May 3, 2022

Audio recorders created by researchers at Imperial College London (ICL) in the U.K. have reliably identified birds in Norwegian forests by their songs. The Bugg system's audio recorders capture and upload sound to a cloud service through mobile subscriber identity module cards; artificial intelligence analyzes the recordings to sift out individual bird songs and identify species, while also analyzing the overall soundscape. The researchers deployed 41 Bugg audio loggers across Norway, which were able to identify 22 bird species with 100% accuracy, and 10 more with over 70% accuracy. Said ICL's Sarab Sethi, "With continued data gathering, we can start to answer larger questions—such as how climate change is affecting these ecosystems."  .... '

Harnessing the Power of the 4th Industrial Revolution (updated)

McKinsey takes a look at discussion of the 4th revolution as covered  at Davos.    Heady stuff.

Spotlight on Davos: Harnessing the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

 .... May 27, 2022 The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the way the world lives, thinks, and interacts—but manufacturers are struggling to capture the full potential of their digital transformation efforts. To successfully implement Industry 4.0 across their networks, factories must put people at the center of their transformations. Check out these insights to understand how companies can effectively harness the power of Industry 4.0 to see meaningful returns, and stay tuned for more on #WEF22.  ....' 

Digital Twins of Diseases

Struck me as an interesting angle of the modeling technique. 

Digital Twins Aid Giving Individual Patients the Right Treatment at the Right Time

Linkoping University (Sweden)

Karin Söderlund Leifler, May 6, 2022

An international team of researchers has modeled digital twins of diseases, in order to improve diagnosis and treatment, and individualize medication regimens so each patient would receive the right drug at the right time. The researchers assembled digital twins of patients with hay fever, using single-cell RNA sequencing to ascertain all gene activity in thousands of individual white blood cells. They measured gene activity at different times before and after stimulating the cells with pollen, and built the twins through network analysis. The team identified the hay fever digital twin's preeminent protein, and demonstrated that inhibiting it was more effective than using a known antihistamine against another protein. ... ' 

Building Reliable AI Models

 Below quite interesting,  here just the intro, full article linked to. Reviewing.  I note the point about changing data in context, which I always emphasize in models. 

7 Techniques for Building Reliable AI Models  By Beena Ammanath in future.16z.com

This is an edited excerpt from Trustworthy AI: A Business Guide for Navigating Trust and Ethics in AI by Beena Ammanath (Wiley, March 2022). Ammanath is executive director of the Global Deloitte AI Institute and leads Trustworthy & Ethical Technology at Deloitte. She has held leadership positions in artificial intelligence and data science at multiple companies, and is the founder of Humans For AI, an organization dedicated to increasing diversity in AI.

With AI model training, datasets are a proxy for the real world. Models are trained on one dataset and tested against another, and if the results are similar, there is an expectation that the model functions can translate to the operational environment. What works in the lab should work consistently in the real world, but for how long? Perfect operating scenarios are rare in AI, and real-world data is messy and complex. This has led to what leading AI researcher Andrew Ng called a “proof-of-concept-to-production gap,” where models train as desired but fail once they are deployed. It is partly a problem of robustness and reliability.

When outputs are inconsistently accurate and become worse over time, the result is uncertainty. Data scientists are challenged to build provably robust, consistently accurate AI models in the face of changing real-world data. In the information flux, the algorithm can meander away, with small changes in input cascading into large shifts in function.

To be sure, not all tools operate in environments prone to dramatic change, and not all AI models present the same levels of risk and consequence if they become inaccurate or undependable. The task for enterprises as they grow their AI footprint is to weigh robustness and reliability as a component of their AI strategy and align the processes, people, and technologies that can manage and correct for errors in a dynamic environment. .... ' 

Looking Further Than Ever

 This could be a very big,  very revealing thing..  As always, I am following.

Astronomers Prepare to Turn Webb Telescope Toward Nearby Super-Earths  By Ryan Whitwam on May 31, 2022 at 6:15 am in ExtremeTech

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been in space for about six months, which is just a fraction of the time NASA spent designing and building it. All that effort is about to pay off, though. Webb will begin science operations this summer, and some of its first targets will be a pair of nearby exoplanets. These planets, 55 Cancri e and LHS 3844 b are in a category of larger rocky exoplanets known as super-Earths. Webb could provide scientists the best view yet of terrestrial planets outside of our solar system. ...

Contact Lenses as Computer Screens

 Will we see this kind of screen allowing all the time access to anything?  Will we want it?

Could Contact Lenses Be the Ultimate Computer Screen?  By BBC News, May 27, 2022

Saratoga, CA-based Mojo is one of a number of companies currently testing smart contact lens products.

Mojo’s scleral lenses feature a microLED display that appears to float in front of the user’s eyes.

The lenses correct the user’s vision, in addition to being equipped with the tiny display, smart sensors, and solid-state batteries.  Other researchers are developing smart lenses to collect health data, potentially diagnosing and treating eye conditions, or even diabetes and cancer, by tracking light levels, cancer-related molecules, glucose levels in tears, and other biomarkers.

Said Columbia University's Rebecca Rojas said such lenses "can also provide extended-release drug-delivery options, which is beneficial in diagnosis and treatment plans."

From BBC News

Virtual Answering Machine

 Useful to the very busy, how well might it work?

Virtual ‘answering machine’ records the real world while you are in VR

People using virtual reality at work could use a new system to capture what happens around them and play back a 3D reconstruction later

TECHNOLOGY 6 May 2022, By Alex Wilkins

A virtual reality (VR) “answering machine” can record changes in a person’s immediate environment while they are immersed in virtual worlds and play them back later.

In workplaces of the future, people may have to focus on tasks in virtual environments, making them unavailable for real-time communication with colleagues.

“The challenge is: Can we create a reality where we can still talk naturally even though the other person might, at that very moment, not be available?” says Andreas Fender  ...  "

Monday, May 30, 2022

James Dyson Working on Home Robotics

I happen to be just reading  the (auto)? biography  ..... By   James Dyson,  Invention:  A Life  Likely to review later. 

Looking forward to see his take on home robotics,nice to see him continue to work the space. 

Dyson Working on Home Robotics  in the BBC 

Dyson is moving beyond vacuum cleaners and hand driers and will try to develop robots capable of helping with household chores.

The company has announced plans to create a major robotics centre at its facility at Hullavington Airfield, in Wiltshire, that will work on new types of domestic robot.   The site will be home to 250 robotics engineers.   Dyson already produces robotic vacuum cleaners.

Computer vision

Founded in the UK, the company is now headquartered in Singapore.

Dyson says it is investing heavily in developing new technology - and half of the 2,000 people to have joined the company this year are engineers, scientists or coders.

It is also hiring robotics engineers across disciplines including computer vision, machinelearning, sensors and "mechatronics".  The company revealed glimpses of some of its work, in a video at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, in Philadelphia.

Robot arms are briefly seen picking up plates, a bottle of detergent and a soft toy - but what kind of commercial devices this work might lead to is not revealed.

Dyson has been attempting to broaden the range of products it offers.  It recently took a first step into wearable technology - but its over-ear headphones with an air-purifying mouth visor received mixed reviews online, with "odd-looking" and "dystopian" among the terms used to describe them.

And some attempts to move into other areas have proved commercially unviable, most notably in 2019 when the company abandoned an electric-car project.  .... ' 

Large Scale Quantum Computing

 Thinking larger scale, how soon?


Approach May Help Clear Hurdle to Large-Scale Quantum Computing  By Harvard Gazette  May 4, 2022

Researchers at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, QuEra Computing, and Austria's University of Innsbruck have developed an approach for shuffling qubits during the computation process while maintaining their quantum state, resulting in a programmable, error-correcting quantum computer operating at 24 qubits.

The process involves an initial pairing of qubits, the creation of a quantum gate that entangles the pairs and stores the information in hyperfine qubits, moving these qubits into new pairs with other atoms in the system to entangle them as well, and repeating the steps to generate different quantum circuits to perform different algorithms.

The atoms ultimately become connected in a "cluster state" and act as backups for each other in the event of an error, according to the researchers.

From Harvard Gazette .... 

View Full Article 

Quest for Explainable AI

Yet another explanation, reasonably good intro.

The quest for explainable AI  Arthur Cole  @acole602  in Venturebeat

Artificial intelligence (AI) is highly effective at parsing extreme volumes of data and making decisions based on information that is beyond the limits of human comprehension. But it suffers from one serious flaw: it cannot explain how it arrives at the conclusions it presents, at least, not in a way that most people can understand.

This “black box” characteristic is starting to throw some serious kinks in the applications that AI is empowering, particularly in medical, financial and other critical fields, where the “why” of any particular action is often more important than the “what.”

A peek under the hood

This is leading to a new field of study called explainable AI (XAI), which seeks to infuse AI algorithms with enough transparency so users outside the realm of data scientists and programmers can double-check their AI’s logic to make sure it is operating within the bounds of acceptable reasoning, bias and other factors. 

As tech writer Scott Clark noted on CMSWire recently, explainable AI provides necessary insight into the decision-making process to allow users to understand why it is behaving the way it is. In this way, organizations will be able to identify flaws in its data models, which ultimately leads to enhanced predictive capabilities and deeper insight into what works and what doesn’t with AI-powered applications.

The key element in XAI is trust. Without that, doubt will persist within any action or decision an AI model generates and this increases the risk of deployment into production environments where AI is supposed to bring true value to the enterprise.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, explainable AI should be built around four principles:

Explanation – the ability to provide evidence, support or reasoning for each output;

Meaningfulness – the ability to convey explanations in ways that users can understand;

Accuracy – the ability to explain not just why a decision was made, but how it was made and;

Knowledge Limits – the ability to determine when its conclusions are not reliable because they fall beyond the limits of its design.

While these principles can be used to guide the development and training of intelligent algorithms, they are also intended to guide human understanding of what explainable means when applied to what is essentially a mathematical construct.

Buyer beware of explainable AI

The key problem with XAI currently, according to Fortune’s Jeremy Kahn, is that it has already become a marketing buzzword to push platforms out the door rather than a true product designation developed under any reasonable set of standards. ..... ' 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Use of VPNs to Change Borders?

 Considering the use of a VPN to border the web?


How Millions of Russians are Tearing Holes in the Digital Iron Curtain   By The Washington Post, May 6, 2022

When Russian authorities blocked hundreds of Internet sites in March, Konstantin decided to act. The 52-year-old company manager in Moscow tore a hole in the Digital Iron Curtain, which had been erected to control the narrative of the Ukraine war, with a tool that lets him surf blocked sites and eyeball taboo news.

Konstantin turned to a virtual private network, an encrypted digital tunnel more commonly known as a VPN. Since the war began in February, VPNs have been downloaded in Russia by the hundreds of thousands a day — a massive surge in demand that represents a direct challenge to President Vladimir Putin's attempt to seal Russians off from the wider world. By protecting the locations and identities of users, VPNs are now granting millions of Russians access to blocked material.

Downloading one in his Moscow apartment, Konstantin said, brought back memories of the 1980s in the Soviet Union — when he used a shortwave radio to hear forbidden news of dissident arrests on U.S.-funded Radio Liberty.

From The Washington Post

View Full Article 

Ready for WiFi-7?

 Not really, until my supplier wants to invest in the upgrade.   But sounds good, much more below


What Is Wi-Fi 7? Great capacity, less latency—here's how IEEE 802.11be achieves both 

Michael Koziol, 27 May 2022  in Spectrum IEEE Spectrum

New generations of Wi-Fi have sprung onto the scene at a rapid pace in recent years. After a storied five-year presence, Wi-Fi 5 was usurped in 2019 by Wi-Fi 6, only for the latter to be toppled a year later in 2020 by an intermediate generation, Wi-Fi 6E. And now, just a couple years later, we’re on the verge of Wi-Fi 7.

Wi-Fi 7 (the official IEEE standard is 802.11be) may only give Wi-Fi 6 a scant few years in the spotlight, but it’s not just an upgrade for the sake of an upgrade. Several new technologies—and some that debuted in Wi-Fi 6E but haven’t entirely yet come into their own—will allow Wi-Fi 7 routers and devices to make full use of an entirely new band of spectrum at 6 gigahertz. This spectrum—first tapped into with Wi-Fi 6E—adds a third wireless band alongside the more familiar 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands.   .... ' 

New Tech not Making us More Preductive?

See the US Govt article pointer to below.

Why Isn't New Technology Making Us More Productive?

By The New York Times, May 25, 2022

For years, it has been an article of faith in corporate America that cloud computing and artificial intelligence will fuel a surge in wealth-generating productivity. That belief has inspired a flood of venture funding and company spending. And the payoff, proponents insist, will not be confined to a small group of tech giants but will spread across the economy.

It hasn't happened yet.

Productivity, which is defined as the value of goods and services produced per hour of work, fell sharply in the first quarter this year, the government reported this month   . The quarterly numbers are often volatile, but the report seemed to dash earlier hopes that a productivity revival was finally underway, helped by accelerated investment in digital technologies during the pandemic.

The growth in productivity since the pandemic hit now stands at about 1 percent annually, in line with the meager rate since 2010 — and far below the last stretch of robust improvement, from 1996 to 2004, when productivity grew more than 3 percent a year.

From The New York Times

View Full Article

Early Looks at Asteroid Mining

Science, Space, Health & Robotics

Asteroid-mining startup books its first mission, launching with SpaceX

Astroforge, a Y Combinator asteroid-mining startup, has scheduled its first mission due to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Adam Hunt  @AdamHuntTT

The Y Combinator asteroid-mining startup is based out of California, and was only founded in January 2022 with the only goal of taking "asteroid mining out of the realm of sci-fi into the realm of reality," according to AstroForge cofounder and CEO Matt Gialich.

The $13 million in funding secured will finance Astroforge's first two missions, the first of which will be a demonstration flight currently booked for a rideshare mission about a SpaceX Falcon 9 next year. Astroforge has also partnered with OrbAstro to create the first satellite for its initial demonstration flight and already has its eye on a collection of candidate asteroids to visit.

The asteroids Astroforge will be targeting are between 20 meters (65.6 feet) to 1,500 meters (0.93 miles) in diameter. Astroforge is particularly targeting asteroids with high concentrations of platinum-group metals, which include ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum. ..... '

Uber Tries Autonomous Food Delivery

How broadly, how practical?  Scale considerations?

Uber Launches Robot Food Delivery in California

By Reuters, May 26, 2022

Uber Technologies Inc. has rolled out pilot food delivery services that use autonomous vehicles in Santa Monica and West Hollywood, CA.

Both services are available to Uber Eats users, with one relying on autonomous cars, in collaboration with Motional, the self-driving joint venture of Hyundai Motor Co. and Aptive PLC, and another using sidewalk robots from Serve Robotics.

Human operators will monitor the autonomous vehicles in both services. Uber indicated that "it will be some time before this technology is operated at scale."  ... Uber said the autonomous cars and sidewalk robots are actively monitored by human operators, adding that "it will be some time before this technology is operated at scale." 

From Reuters

View Full Article   

NY State to Give Out Robot Companions

 Japan is doing a similar thing.  We saw early efforts in their Eldercare program.  Have not seen ElliQ. Only 800 adults are initially mentioned. 

NY State Will Give Out Hundreds of Robots as Companions for the Elderly

By The Verge, May 25, 2022

ElliQ's creator says the robot can set reminders for errands, events, or medications.

The State of New York will distribute robot companions to the homes of more than 800 older adults. The robots will not be able to help with physical tasks, but will function as more proactive versions of digital assistants — engaging users in small talk, helping contact loved ones, and keeping track of health goals like exercise and medication.

The effort is being organized by the New York State Office for the Aging. NYSOFA director Greg Olsen says the robot, named ElliQ and built by Israeli firm Intuition Robotics, "is a proactive tool, remembers the interactions with the individual, focuses on health and wellness, stress reduction, sleep, hydration, et cetera. It focuses on what matters to individuals: memories, life validation, interactions with friends and families, and promotes overall good health and well being."

ElliQ consists of two parts attached to a single base. The first part is a lamp-like "face" with microphone and speakers, that lights up and swivels to face people it's talking to. The second is a touchscreen tablet, used to display pictures, additional information, and conduct video calls.

Published research suggests social robots "appear to have the potential to improve the well-being of older adults," and recommends wider trials.

From The Verge

View Full Article   

Smart Office Buildings Are Vulnerable to Hacks

Makes sense considering the context,   

Smart Office Buildings Are Vulnerable to Hacks

The Wall Street Journal, Konrad Putzier, May 3, 2022

Smart office buildings in the U.S. raise concerns about privacy and cybersecurity. Cybersecurity consultants warn that building managers devote little attention to digital security, and the interconnection of smart building systems means accessing a single Internet-connected door can potentially enable hijacking, extortion, or data theft. Lucian Niemeyer at smart-building safety nonprofit Building Cyber Security worries that more criminals will target smart buildings as protections for mobile phones and databases are strengthened. Said Dave Tyson of cybersecurity company Apollo Information Systems Corp., “The bad guys only need to find one way in, and whatever you’ve connected to is now on the table.”  ...

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Future of Life

 Brought to my attention, research at the FLI,   the Future of Life Institute


In 2015, FLI launched the first peer-reviewed grants program aimed at ensuring artificial intelligence (AI) remains safe, ethical and beneficial. In the first round, FLI awarded $6.5M to 37 researchers. You can read more about these researchers, their projects, and their outputs below.

In early 2018, FLI launched a second grantmaking round, this time with a focus on ensuring that artificial general intelligence (AGI) remains safe and beneficial. $2M was awarded to 10 researchers, whose work you can read more about below.

FLI is grateful to the Berkeley Existential Risk Institute, Open Philanthropy Project, and Elon Musk for their donations, which made the grants program possible.  .... ' 

Call for a Cyber Secure Tech NATO

May make sense, but should it be connected to a largely military alliance?    Create incentives for cooperative cybersecure regulation and behavior. 

AI News

Darktrace CEO calls for a ‘Tech NATO’ amid growing cyber threats  By Ryan Daws | May 27, 2022 | TechForge Media

The CEO of AI cybersecurity firm Darktrace has called for a “Tech NATO” to counter growing cybersecurity threats.

Poppy Gustafsson spoke on Wednesday at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) – the UK’s leading and world’s oldest defense think thank – on the evolving cyber threat landscape.

Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has led to a global rethinking of security. 

While some in the West had begun questioning the need for NATO post-cold war, and many members have failed to meet their defense spending commitments, the invasion of Ukraine has proven why the defense alliance remains a bedrock of Western security.

NATO members are now spending more on defense, increasing cooperation, and the alliance is now preparing to accept Sweden and Finland into its fold.   Russia has thrown out the rule book with its conduct and will eventually face war crime trials as a result. NATO members, in contrast, have acted in accordance with the UN charter and only provided resources to Ukraine that it can use to defend its territory from the invaders.

However, any provision of long-range weapons that could pose a threat to Moscow would be seen as going beyond helping an ally to defend itself into helping attack Russia itself—likely triggering a disastrous global conflict.

Those kinds of norms around conventional warfare are well-established. In the cybersphere, they’re yet to be set.  .... ' 

On Coding and Software in Quanta Mag

On a  Coding Guru of note, I used his LaTex system.

How to Write Software With Mathematical Perfection   by Sheon Han

Leslie Lamport revolutionized how computers talk to each other. Now he’s working on how engineers talk to their machines.

Leslie Lamport may not be a household name, but he’s behind a few of them for computer scientists: the typesetting program LaTeX and the work that made cloud infrastructure at Google and Amazon possible. He’s also brought more attention to a handful of problems, giving them distinctive names like the bakery algorithm and the Byzantine Generals Problem. This is no accident. The 81-year-old computer scientist is unusually thoughtful about how people use and think about software.

In 2013, he won the A.M. Turing Award, considered the Nobel Prize of computing, for his work on distributed systems, where multiple components on different networks coordinate to achieve a common objective. Internet searches, cloud computing and artificial intelligence all involve orchestrating legions of powerful computing machines to work together. Of course, this kind of coordination opens you up to more problems.

“A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable,” Lamport once said.   .... ' 

NFTs to Create Lodging Reservations

Unusual Application for NFTs

 Hotels Using NFTs to Create ‘StubHub’ for Lodging Reservations

The Wall Street Journal, Peter Grant, May 24, 2022

Some hotels are wagering they can reduce excess inventory from sudden cancellations by converting room nights into nonfungible tokens (NFTs) that guests can buy or sell. The Pinktada startup has launched a booking system that lets guests purchase NFTs to reserve rooms at participating hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico, San Francisco, and Hawaii, at a discount from what each establishment would charge for a refundable reservation. The hotels' revenue is assured whether the room is used or not, and guests whose plans change can use the tokens for other Pinktada resorts, or sell them to other travelers in the network. Pinktada said it only allows its members to participate in its marketplace, and makes membership data available to the property owners. .... ' 

Approach May Help Clear Hurdle to Large-Scale Quantum Computing

 Efforts continue to address Quantum state error correction. 

Approach May Help Clear Hurdle to Large-Scale Quantum Computing

Harvard Gazette, Juan Siliezar, May 3, 2022

Researchers at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, QuEra Computing, and Austria's University of Innsbruck have developed an approach for shuffling qubits during the computation process while maintaining their quantum state, resulting in a programmable, error-correcting quantum computer operating at 24 qubits. The process involves an initial pairing of qubits, the creation of a quantum gate that entangles the pairs and stores the information in hyperfine qubits, moving these qubits into new pairs with other atoms in the system to entangle them as well, and repeating the steps to generate different quantum circuits to perform different algorithms. The atoms ultimately become connected in a "cluster state" and act as backups for each other in the event of an error, according to the researchers. ... ' 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Quantum Internet Getting Closer

 Advances in Data Teleportation indicated.

'Quantum Internet' Inches Closer With Advance in Data Teleportation  By The New York Times, May 26, 2022

From Santa Barbara, CA, to Hefei, China, scientists are developing a new kind of computer that will make today's machines look like toys.

Harnessing the mysterious powers of quantum mechanics, the technology will perform tasks in minutes that even supercomputers could not complete in thousands of years. In the fall of 2019, Google unveiled an experimental quantum computer showing this was possible. Two years later, a lab in China did much the same.

But quantum computing will not reach its potential without help from another technological breakthrough. Call it a "quantum internet" — a computer network that can send quantum information between distant machines.

At the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, a team of physicists has taken a significant step toward this computer network of the future, using a technique called quantum teleportation to send data across three physical locations. Previously, this was possible with only two.

Previously, this was possible with only two.

From The New York Times

View Full Article   

Smart Screws

 Interesting application to link manufacturing elements (here screws) with specifications to determine their proper application or condition.    Very useful application it seems. 

Smart Screws Keep Bridges, Machines, Wind Turbines Safe

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany), May 2, 2022

At Germany's Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies, researchers developed a self-powered Internet of Things (IoT) device that permits remote monitoring of the stability of screw connections in an object or structure. Smart Screw Connection incorporates sensors and radio technology in a device featuring a screw fitted with a washer containing a piezoresistive DiaForce thin film. The sensors record the preload force at three points when the screw is tightened, and changes in the preload force, which alter the electrical resistance in the thin film, are transmitted via radio module on the screw head to a base station. Fraunhofer's Peter Spies said, "No engineer is required to be on site and check each screw individually, as all the data are transmitted via radio to the service station."  .... '

Algorithm Optimally Divvies up Tasks for Human-Robot Teams

Good look at the cooperative issue. 


Algorithm Optimally Divvies up Tasks for Human-Robot Teams  By SciTechDaily, May 26, 2022

As robots increasingly join people working on the factory floor, in warehouses, and elsewhere on the job, determining who will do which tasks increases in complexity and importance. People are better suited for some jobs, robots for others. And in some cases, it is advantageous to spend time teaching a robot to do a task now and reap the rewards later.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute (RI) have developed an algorithmic planner that helps delegate tasks to humans and robots. The planner, "Act, Delegate or Learn" (ADL), considers a list of duties and decides how best to assign them. The researchers asked three questions: When should a robot act to complete a task? When should a task be delegated to a human? And when should a robot learn a new task?

“There are costs associated with the decisions made, such as the time it takes a human to complete a task or teach a robot to complete a task and the cost of a robot failing at a task,” said Shivam Vats, the lead researcher and a Ph.D. student in the RI. “Given all those costs, our system will give you the optimal division of labor.”

From SciTechDaily

View Full Article  

Lumos can Find Hidden Cameras and IOT

 Means for checking for hidden cameras and IOT.

Lumos System Can Find Hidden Cameras and IoT Devices in Your Airbnb or Hotel Room

 By May 25, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan in HackerNews

A group of academics has devised a system that can be used on a phone or a laptop to identify and locate Wi-Fi-connected hidden IoT devices in unfamiliar physical spaces.

With hidden cameras being increasingly used to snoop on individuals in hotel rooms and Airbnbs, the goal is to be able to pinpoint such rogue devices without much of a hassle.

The system, dubbed Lumos, is designed with this intent in mind and to "visualize their presence using an augmented reality interface," said  Rahul Anand Sharma, Elahe Soltanaghaei, Anthony Rowe, and Vyas Sekar of Carnegie Mellon University in a new paper.

At its core, the platform works by snuffing and collecting encrypted wireless packets over the air to detect and identify concealed devices. Subsequently, it estimates the location of each identified device with respect to the user as they walk around the perimeter of the space.

The localization module, for its part, combines signal strength measurements that are available in 802.11 packets (aka Received Signal Strength Indicator or RSSI) with relative user position determined by visual inertial odometry (VIO) information on mobile phones.  ..... ' 

New Qubits More Stable?

Advances in stable solutions.

Frozen Neon Invention Jolts Quantum Computer Race,  Single electrons trapped on solid neon could serve as highly stable qubits     CHARLES Q. CHOI  in Spectrum IEEE

A superconducting microwave resonator (gold curves) can use microwaves (pale beam) to help control a single isolated electron (orange waves) trapped on a block of solid frozen neon (green block). The individual electrons, controlled by the microwave pulses, can then be harnessed as individual qubits to make a new kind of quantum computer, according to a new study in the journal Nature. DAFEI JIN/ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY

Quantum computers can theoretically find the answers to problems no classical computer could ever solve, but they rely on infamously unstable components known as qubits. New findings now suggests that electrons trapped on frozen solid neon could prove a simple yet powerful kind of qubit for use in future quantum computers.

Qubits, or quantum bits, rely on the bizarre nature of quantum physics, which suggests that electrons, atoms and other building blocks of the universe can exist in a state known as superposition where they are essentially spin in two opposite directions at once or exist in two or more places at the same time. By placing many qubits into superposition, a quantum computer can in theory perform a mind-boggling number of computations simultaneously.

Amazon, Google, IBM, and many others are racing to create a practical quantum computer from a variety of qubit platforms, such as superconducting loops, electromagnetically trapped ions and spins within silicon. However, all qubits are extraordinarily fragile to outside interference ..... "

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Procter & Gamble Bets on a BeautySphere Metaverse

My long-ago employer.  We played with early capabilities like the metaverse then, but not strongly consumer facing ones.   Much of that experiment was recorded here.  Yes I am surprised. it is unexpected.  Not really the world of their typical customers. Or are those consumers  moving there?    Still don't see it, but a big bet it is.  Please don't screw it up.  Call me if you would like to discuss.

Procter & Gamble is placing a big bet on the metaverse to support its suite of brands Creative and a technical leaders from the consumer goods giant share their reasoning for pursuing the metaverse, which they say they see as a learning opportunity.  A BeautySphere.   Following.  

Procter & Gamble is placing a big bet on the metaverse to support its suite of brands  By  Aman Kidwai         May 25, 2022 6:35 PM EDT  in Fortune.

It may be surprising that a 180-year-old maker of consumer products for the physical world is spending significant time and resources on the metaverse. But as leaders from Procter & Gamble explain, the main purpose of their exploration is to find new ways to interact with prospective customers and add value for them and retail partners.

How is success achieved through transformation

At the Fortune Brainstorm Design conference on Tuesday, Phil Duncan, chief design officer at Procter & Gamble, said “any time that there's a place where consumers are gravitating toward,” P&G is looking “to grow our businesses and, obviously, win the hearts and minds of consumers.”

“We're stepping into this environment to learn and understand how engagement really matters with consumers and ultimately create value,” he later added.

The consumer goods giant is one of many Fortune 500 companies making its mark in the metaverse, an online world where companies and people can maintain avatars, spaces, and other virtual presences. One project P&G has used the metaverse for is to replicate the experience of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a premier industry event, during the pandemic. The company made a similar push to put brand activations and experiences from its 2020 Tokyo Olympics sponsorship into the metaverse.

“The pandemic situation made it a bit more real for us to put it in practice and have a big, open mind to try them,” said Ioana Matei, head of emerging/immersive technologies at Procter & Gamble. Duncan credited Matei as his “reverse mentor” for this project, due to his lack of experience in this arena in other design initiatives he’s led.  ... ' 

For more of an inside Procter & Gamble Perspective.

Fundamental Energy Transitions

But could take more or less based on the fundamental breakthroughs required.

Fundamental Energy Transitions Can Take a Century Electricity’s benefits were obvious, but it still took a lifetime to dominate,    By VACLAV SMIL   in IEEE Spectrum

ONE HUNDRED AND forty years ago, Thomas Edison began generating electricity at two small coal-fired stations, one in London (Holborn Viaduct), the other in New York City (Pearl Street Station). Yet although electricity was clearly the next big thing, it took more than a lifetime to reach most people. Even now, not all parts of the world have easy access to it. Count this slow rollout as one more reminder that fundamental systemic transitions are protracted affairs.

Such transitions tend to follow an S-shaped curve: Growth rates shift from slow to fast, then back to slow again. I will demonstrate this by looking at a few key developments in electricity generation and residential consumption in the United States, which has reliable statistics for all but the earliest two decades of the electric period.   .... ' 

Ransomware and Government

Was afraid of this ...

The Government's Still Mostly in the Dark on Ransomware

By The Washington Post, May 24, 2022

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair Gary Peters released a report on the government's limited visibility into ransomware attacks.

The government is largely in the dark when it comes to the scale of ransomware attacks pummeling schools, local governments and businesses, a congressional report out this morning warns.

Government officials don't reliably know how many attacks there are, how badly those attacks are hurting victims or how much victims are paying to rid themselves of the malicious software that locks up their computers and data. That's the troubling assessment of a 10-month investigation by Democratic staffers on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

From The Washington Post   

D-Wave. Real Value with Quantum Computing

Just mentioned here. Much more at the link ....

Launch Your Quantum Journey Today:  D-Wave

Our customers are building quantum applications for problems as diverse as logistics, portfolio optimization, drug discovery, materials sciences, scheduling, fault detection, traffic congestion, and supply chain management. What problem can we help you solve?  

Get Started

Business Advantage Delivered Today

Our singular focus is to help customers achieve real value by using quantum computing for practical business applications.   

You may be surprised to learn that our enterprise customers have already built more than 250 early quantum applications across many industries.  

The powerful combination of the Advantage™ quantum system and the Leap™ hybrid solver services enable the first in-production quantum applications demonstrating business benefit.  

Unlock Your New Competitive Edge

Quantum computing has the potential to radically impact life sciences and healthcare. The most forward-thinking organizations have already gotten started. Industry associations like the Pistoia Alliance and QuPharm are working to advance this transformation.

Ready to Launch Your Quantum Project?

D-Wave Launch is designed to help enterprises go from problem discovery to production implementation and accelerate the quantum journey. Engage our in-house professional services teams and technical domain experts to help kick off your first quantum project, train your teams on quantum, and realize real business value faster.  ... ' 

Analysis of Retail Trends


40 MINUTE SESSION  (I Plan to Attend)  from Retailwire

Wed, Jun 15 – 12:00 noon EDT/ 9 am PDT

(Can't make it? Register and we'll alert you when the recording is available.)

For brick and mortar retailers, the first half of 2022 has been defined by a uniquely varied set of challenges. To help us wrap our head around the trends, Placer.ai’s Ethan Chernofsky will come armed to this live session with his firm’s latest AI and machine learning derived from a panel of over 30 million devices throughout the U.S.


How has retail performance been boosted by shifting consumer behavior?,  Which areas have advanced, which are regressing and which are coalescing to give retail a summer boost?  ... '

Computer Scientists Help Build a Wooden Dome Made from Waste

Multiple challenging uses of computing to address a complex problem. 

Computer Scientists Help Build a Wooden Dome Made Solely from Waste

ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Rahel Künzler, April 26, 2022

A team of architects, engineers, and computer scientists at Switzerland's ETH Zurich built a geodesic dome using demolition waste. The team members salvaged plywood panels, wooden beams, steel girders, and plastic piping from an old car depot in Geneva before its demolition. One student programmed an algorithm to calculate the geometry and dimensions of the desired dome based on the available timber, with the goal of utilizing as much of the scrap wood as possible. Another created an online platform for building materials that serves as a digital material passport, with each piece of wood marked with a QR code that links to the platform. Said team leader Catherine De Wolf, “Projects like this one can only succeed if all the stakeholders are on the same page.”   ... ' 

Countermeasure Against Wireless Surveillance

 Appears very useful

Countermeasure Against Wireless Surveillance  By Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany), May 25, 2022

The intelligent reflecting surface IRShield is positioned next to a Wi-Fi router for obfuscation of the environment-dependent wireless channel. ... 

Researchers from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and the Cologne University of Applied Sciences have developed a system to protect privacy in wireless communications based on intelligent reflective surfaces (IRS).

To prevent passive eavesdroppers from obtaining sensitive data transmitted through intercepted high-frequency signals, the team created IRS, which distributes many reflective elements over a surface and electronically adjusts the reflective behavior of each.

Their IRShield solution uses an algorithm to create a random IRS configuration that disguises wireless channels so attackers are unable to read information about movements in the room from the signal.

In testing, the researchers found IRShield was able to thwart 95% of such attacks.

From Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany)   Full Article

Pros And Cons of AI In Manufacturing

 Good general overview here.

Pros and Cons of AI in Manufacturing

ManojKumar847 May 25, 2022 at 3:47 am  in DataScience

The fourth industrial revolution has been a game-changer, with the global economy’s expansion driving the adoption of new technologies across sectors. Manufacturers are using AI software in product design, production, supply chain, and logistics. AI analytics and data are helping in improving product quality and efficiency. Advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and Big Data have initiated an algorithm-based era. Today companies are able to automate multiple tasks, cutting down on errors as well as downtime and expenditures associated with them using AI. Not only does AI provide self-generated decision-making capabilities but it gathers data, identifies patterns in data, and provides recommendations. AI enables machines to make decisions without the need for human intervention. Although humans are not perfect but are much more efficient at performing certain tasks.

Humans are not equipped with the skills to process data and the complex patterns that appear within large datasets. AI easily sorts data from a manufacturing machine and identifies outliers in the data that clearly indicate if the machine requires maintenance in the coming weeks.  AI can complete this task in a fraction of the time that a human would spend analyzing the data. Like many other sectors, the manufacturing industry is also using AI in different ways like predicting maintenance, generative design, and market predictions. Since everything has its advantages and disadvantages, AI being such an asset has some pros and cons as well. .... '

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Is Q-Day Coming?

Brought to my attention.   Note mention of D-Wave Annealing, recall we connected to  them.  Could this mean the ability to break most encryption?  Breaking many parts of security infrastructures.   Scary?  Encrypting better with annealing?   See also the most recent Security Now for more comments.     Is the claim about D-Wave accurate?  Following up. 

Q-Day Is Coming Sooner Than We Think  By Arthur Herman Contributor  in Forbes, introduction: 

I comment on quantum computing and AI, and American national security.

Jun 7, 2021,01:37pm EDT

“Q-Day” is the term some experts use to describe when large-scale quantum computers are able to factorize the large prime numbers that underlie our public encryption systems, such as the ones that are supposed to protect our bank accounts, financial markets, and most vital infrastructure. That’s a feat that’s all but impossible for even the fastest supercomputers but which the unique features of quantum computers, using the physics of superpositioning and entanglement, will be able to deliver.

There’s a growing consensus that this quantum threat is real; there’s no agreement how long it will take before a quantum computer has the 4000 or so stable qubits it will need to meet the requirements of Shor’s algorithm for cracking those encryption systems. 

For example, it would take a classical computer 300 trillion years to crack an RSA-2048 bit encryption key. A quantum computer can do the same job in just ten seconds with 4099 stable qubits—but getting to that number is the main problem quantum computer engineers face since the stability or coherence of qubits lasts only for microseconds. Today’s most entangled computer, Google’s GOOG -1.1% Bristlecone, has just 72 stable qubits. 

Nonetheless, I have been arguing for the past four years, including in this column, that Q-Day is likely to come sooner than even quantum scientists can predict, and that the time to get ready to protect our vulnerable data and networks is now.  Others prefer to procrastinate, citing other experts who say such a threat is at least a decade or more away. The fact that the National Institute of Standards and Technology won’t have its quantum-resistant algorithm standards ready until 2024, and expects the rollout to space out for another five to fifteen years, has helped to encourage complacency disguised as confidence.  ... ' 

Pwn2Own Work Explained

Worth knowing about 

Celebrating 15 Years of Pwn2Own  (video at link)

Join Erin Sindelar, Mike Gibson, Brian Gorenc, and Dustin Childs as they discuss Pwn2Own's 15th anniversary, what we've learned, and how the program will continue to serve the cybersecurity community in the future.

By: Trend Micro,   May 25, 2022

Vertical Thinking Broke Bottleneck in Powering High-Performance Computers

Vertical Thinking Broke Bottleneck in Powering High-Performance Computers

Princeton University, May 2, 2022  In Princeton Engineering

A team of researchers from Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Intel, and Google have developed a new method of power delivery that meets the needs of modern high-performance computers without sacrificing speed or efficiency. The method works with both small systems and large datacenters. The goal of the research was to deliver power to smaller areas to enable microprocessors to sit closer together, increase efficiency to reduce costs and prevent overheating, and quickly switch power among components to meet the demands of microprocessors. The researchers accomplished these goals by using capacitors rather than magnetics to process power, and by building the systems vertically instead of horizontally. Princeton's Minjie Chen said the result of their efforts is "a fully functioning system 10 times smaller than the best off-the-shelf." ... ' 

Dandelion Energy

More interesting energy solutions of note.  Note connection to drones.  Practical uses?

 Battery-Free Devices Float on the Wind like Dandelion Seeds

University of Washington News, Sarah McQuate, March 16, 2022

University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed a tiny battery-free device that can be blown by wind currents, like dandelion seeds. The sensor-conveying devices can travel up to 100 meters (roughly 328 feet). Once they land, solar panels power their electronics, which can share sensor data wirelessly up to 60 meters (196 feet) away via backscattering. The devices feature bristles that bend inward, while a ring structure adds stiffness and slows their descent. "Our prototype suggests that you could use a drone to release thousands of these devices in a single drop," said UW's Shyam Gollakota. "They'll all be carried by the wind a little differently, and basically you can create a 1,000-device network with this one drop." 

Comparing AI Reasoning with Human Thinking

Comparison is always useful.   To mimic or check useful contexts. 

Comparing AI Reasoning with Human Thinking

IEEE Spectrum, Charles Q. Choi, April 27, 2022

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and IBM Research have developed a method for comparing the reasoning of artificial intelligence (AI) software with that of human thinking, in order to better understand the AI's decision-making. The Shared Interest technique compares saliency analyses of an AI decision with human-annotated databases. It classifies the AI's reasoning as one of eight patterns, ranging from the AI being completely distracted (making incorrect predictions and not aligning with human reasoning) to making correct predictions and being completely human-aligned. Said MIT's Angie Boggust, "Providing human users with tools to interrogate and understand their machine-learning models is crucial to ensuring machine-learning models can be safely deployed in the real world."  .... ' 

DDOS Attacks Amplified

More Dangers out there.

New Attack Amplifies DDoSes by 4 Billion-Fold

By Ars Technica, March 17, 2022

Researchers from eight organizations warn of a new distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) amplification attack that boosts DDoS volumes by a potential factor of four billion. Attackers have been using the Mitel MiCollab and MiVoice Business Express collaboration systems to launch attacks, with an amplification vector supplied by misconfigured Mitel servers.

"This particular attack vector differs from most UDP [user datagram protocol] reflection/amplification attack methodologies in that the exposed system test facility can be abused to launch a sustained DDoS attack of up to 14 hours in duration by means of a single spoofed attack initiation packet, resulting in a record-setting packet amplification ratio of 4,294,967,296:1," the researchers wrote. They suggested the attackers using this technique still seem to be experimenting.

From Ars Technica,  View Full Article   

Reconsidering The Genius Experience

 Have had different levels of experience with them over the year, it depends much on their individual background.   Apple at one time 'flew in' a group to help work with execs being trained with new devices.   Experience was OK. 

Apple may be rethinking the role of its ‘geniuses’ in stores

Apr 28, 2022, by George Anderson in Retilwire

Apple has pumped the brakes on hiring new associates to work its Genius bars in some stores leading to speculation that the tech giant may be rethinking how it deploys workers in its locations.

Bloomberg was the first to report that Apple has chosen not to fill open Genius positions in some stores. It has also not moved ahead with verbal job offers made to some individuals slated to work at the company’s stores. The news service reports that Apple has not put a widespread hiring freeze in place or laid off geniuses.

Apple’s reality along with many other retailers is that in-store shopping patterns have changed since the advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The company is assessing staffing levels and the functions that workers perform. Some stores in recent years have eliminated the use of Genius Bars and opted to put more associates on the floor to help customers.

The company has tested a flexwork model where store staff are able to work remotely some weeks and on-premises on others. Associates working at home handle online sales, customer service and tech support.

Apple yesterday launched its online Self Service Repair Store. The site gives customers access to repair manuals and genuine parts and tools for its iPhone 12, 13 and third–generation SE models.

The tech giant has made a concerted effort in recent years to diversify its service network using third-party providers. Apple said it has nearly doubled the number of independent repair providers for its products giving consumers nearby access across most of the U.S. Eighty percent of Apple customers, according to the company, are within a 20-minute drive to an authorized service provider. ... ' 

Control Electronics for Quantum Computers

 Controlling your Quantum Computing

Engineers Develop Control Electronics for Quantum Computers That Improve Performance, Cut Costs

FermiLab, April 29, 2022

The Quantum Instrumentation Control Kit developed by engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FermiLab) and the University of Chicago can enhance quantum computer performance while reducing control/readout electronics' cost. The researchers created a field-programmable gate array (FPGA)-based controller for quantum computing experiments, and reduced the size of an equipment rack to that of a single electronics board that can interoperate with many types of superconducting quantum bits (qubits). The radio frequency (RF) board and FPGA controller can control eight qubits in their simplest iteration, and combining all RF elements in one board increases operational speed and precision, allowing real-time feedback and error correction. ... ' 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

IFTF: News from the Future

We and our executives worked with and provided corporate insight and data  for the Institute for the Future  https://www.iftf.org/home/ for years, here a pointer to their work, will have links posted here monthly:   

News from the Future Curated by The Institute for the Future ,  provided by Bob Johansen

May 24, 2022 — Issue #74

What's new from @IFTF's News from the Future? Read the new signals and research here! https://tinyurl.com/243vrw6b  .... ' 

Backlash to Zoom Emotion Detecting

 I agree that AI is not fully ready to do this well today,  but that 9t is inevitable, this will happen. And its a good idea to experiment with it now.  Not Dystopian.  

In AI News    Zoom receives backlash for emotion-detecting AI. By Ryan Daws | May 19, 2022 | TechForge Media

Zoom has caused a stir following reports that it’s developing an AI system for detecting emotions.

The system, first reported by Protocol, claims to scan users’ faces and their speech to determine their emotions.   Zoom detailed the system more in a blog post last month. The company says ‘Zoom IQ’ will be particularly useful for helping salespeople improve their pitches based on the emotions of call participants.

Naturally, the system is seen as rather dystopian and has received its fair share of criticism.

On Wednesday, over 25 rights groups sent a joint letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. The letter urges Zoom to cease research on emotion-based AI.  The letter’s signatories include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Muslim Justice League, and Access Now.

One of the key concerns is that emotion-detecting AI could be used for things like hiring or financial decisions; such as whether to grant loans. That has the possibility to increase existing inequalities. “Results are not intended to be used for employment decisions or other comparable decisions. All recommended ranges for metrics are based on publicly available research,” Zoom explained.

Zoom IQ tracks metrics including ... '   (more at the ink) 

UK fines Clearview AI £7.5M for Scraping Citizens’ Data

 Recently talked to a company about collecting 'public data' to build an infrastructure of facial images for non individual recognition purposes. . The governing laws about using such data is complex and getting more so, so beware.

UK fines Clearview AI £7.5M for scraping citizens’ data By Ryan Daws | May 23, 2022 | TechForge Media  in AINews

 Clearview AI has been fined £7.5 million by the UK’s privacy watchdog for scraping the online data of citizens without their explicit consent.

 The controversial facial recognition provider has scraped billions of images of people across the web for its system. Understandably, it caught the attention of regulators and rights groups from around the world.

 In November 2021, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed a potential fine of just over £17 million on Clearview AI. Today’s announcement suggests Clearview AI got off relatively lightly.

John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner, said:

“Clearview AI Inc has collected multiple images of people all over the world, including in the UK, from a variety of websites and social media platforms, creating a database with more than 20 billion images.

The company not only enables identification of those people, but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service. That is unacceptable.

That is why we have acted to protect people in the UK by both fining the company and issuing an enforcement notice.”  The enforcement notice requires Clearview AI to delete all facial recognition data.  ...

A joint investigation by the UK’s ICO and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) was first launched in July 2020.

Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, commented:  “The joint investigation with the ICO has been highly valuable and demonstrates the benefits of data protection regulators collaborating to support effective and proactive regulation.   

The issues raised by Clearview AI’s business practices presented novel concerns in a number of jurisdictions. By partnering together, the OAIC and ICO have been able to contribute to an international position, and shape our global regulatory environment.” Falk concluded that uploading an image to a social media site “does not unambiguously indicate agreement to collection of that image by an unknown third party for commercial purposes”.   ... ' 

And further on EuroNews. 

Bluetooth Hack can Unlock Tesla

This will get further attention. 

Bluetooth Hack Can Unlock Tesla, Devices  By Ars Technica

Sultan Qasim Khan at U.K.-based security firm NCC Group has devised an exploit for unlocking Teslas and countless other devices by hacking the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard. The simplest form of this relay attack involves two hackers who share data through an open Internet connection, and are respectively close to the Tesla and the authenticating phone. 

Attacker 1 captures the authenticating request from the Tesla and sends it to Attacker 2, who forwards the request to the phone and records and sends the phone-transmitted credential to Attacker 1, who then can unlock the car. The hack thwarts countermeasures like encrypting phone-transmitted credentials, and Khan said practically any BLE device that authenticates on proximity alone is susceptible., 

The hack, which exploits weaknesses in the Bluetooth Low Energy standard, can be used to unlock doors, open and operate vehicles, and gain unauthorized access to a host of laptops and other security-sensitive devices  ... 

In Ars Technica: 

Improved Motion Capture with Neural Network State Prediction

 Improving Motion Capture

A One-Up on Motion Capture

MIT News, Lauren Hinkel, April 29, 2022

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and IBM researchers developed the rendering invariant state-prediction (RISP) neural network pipeline to eliminate pitfalls of motion capture by inferring environmental factors, actions, physical systemic characteristics, and control parameters. MIT's Tao Du said the method can "reconstruct a digital twin from a video of a dynamic system," which requires researchers "to ignore the rendering variances from the video clips and try to grasp of the core information about the dynamic system or the dynamic motion." RISP converts differences in images (pixels) into differences in systemic states, embedding generalizability and agnosticism in rendering configurations. RISP outperformed other techniques in simulations of four physical systems of rigid and deformable bodies—a quadrotor, a cube, an articulated hand, and a rod—and can accommodate imitation learning. ... '  ' 

Restaurant AI Phone

 Just made sever reservations and payments at restaurants, is this good enough?  In the right direction.  

SoundHound Debuts Restaurant Voice AI Phone Service With Square Payment


SoundHound will integrate its phone-based voice assistant for restaurants with Square’s popular payment service. The new partnership combines the SoundHound for Restaurants voice assistant introduced last year with the Square’s point-of-sale system already widely used in foodservice. The announcement follows only a couple of days after SoundHound signed a significant long-term deal with Hyundai and only a month after the company went public on Nasdaq.


SoundHound for Restaurants acts as a digital waiter when people call a restaurant to place an order for pick-up or delivery. Restaurant owners sync their menu and the appropriate phone number with the voice assistant, who answers every call so there’s no need for a customer to be put on hold. The voice assistant’s natural language interface understands what the customer is ordering, including changes made during the call. Once finished, the AI sends a confirmation to the customer, whose payment is then processed through Square’s POS system. The voice assistant is a subscription service for restaurant owners, with the cost depending on its use, though SoundHound is running a promotion waiving the subscription fee through the end of the year for those that sign up before July.

“At Square, we are seeing sellers leverage the latest technology to meet customer demand regardless of size or complexity,” Square head of restaurants Bryan Solar said. “Our partnership with SoundHound allows us to offer innovative and cost-effective solutions to restaurants working with small profit margins and facing multiple challenges—including the high cost of rapid labor turnover and shortages. This integration provides our sellers with the tools they need to offer a consistently high-level of customer service.”


Restaurant voice assistants are starting to appear at an accelerating rate at chains like Marcos Pizza and Checkers, which has struck deals with both Valyant AI and Presto to embed a drive-thru voice assistant at its franchises and corporate-owned locations, respectively. Meanwhile, McDonald’s sold its McD Tech Labs to IBM and began a collaboration to develop an automated drive-thru service late last year. SoundHound’s previous experiments leveraging its conversational AI for restaurants also centered on drive-thrus. ...

Monday, May 23, 2022

Use of Digital Twins in City Planning

Had not seen this approach used in city planning before

Barcelona Bets on 'Digital Twin' as Future of City Planning

Politico Europe, Aitor Hernandez-Morales, May 18, 2022

Officials in Barcelona, Spain, are using the Barcelona Supercomputing Center's MareNostrum supercomputer to improve urban planning through the use of a digital twin of the city. Planners can use the digital replica to trial-run potential urban planning projects. "Instead of implementing flawed policies and then have to go back and correct them, we're saving time by making sure those decisions are right before we execute them," said Barcelona Deputy Mayor Laia Bonet. The city is using the program to explore ways to implement the 15-minute city framework, which proposes that residents have access to all needed services within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from home.

Full Article:  

Potentially Deadly AI?

Don't know how much of a real issue this is, but it is being reported by the Swiss Spiez lab, about their own drug discovery platform.  I would like to see a deeper follow up.  Please pass along and I will post. 

Widely Available AI Could Have Deadly Consequences   By Wired, May 18, 2022

In September 2021, scientists Sean Ekins and Fabio Urbina were working on an experiment they had named the "Dr. Evil project." The Swiss government's Spiez laboratory had asked them to find out what would happen if their AI drug discovery platform, MegaSyn, fell into the wrong hands.

In much the way undergraduate chemistry students play with ball-and-stick model sets to learn how different chemical elements interact to form molecular compounds, Ekins and his team at Collaborations Pharmaceuticals used publicly available databases containing the molecular structures and bioactivity data of millions of molecules to teach MegaSyn how to generate new compounds with pharmaceutical potential. The plan was to use it to accelerate the drug discovery process for rare and neglected diseases. The best drugs are ones with high specificity—acting only on desired or targeted cells or neuroreceptors, for instance—and low toxicity to reduce ill effects.

Normally, MegaSyn would be programmed to generate the most specific and least toxic molecules. Instead, Ekins and Urbina programmed it to generate VX, an odorless and tasteless nerve agent and one of the most toxic and fast-acting human-made chemical warfare agents known today.... 

The researchers warned that while AI is becoming more powerful and increasingly accessible to anyone, there is nearly no regulation or oversight for this technology and only limited awareness among researchers of its potential malicious uses.  .... 

From Wired   View Full Article   

Infant Pacifier as Sensor

 Clever application

Smart Pacifier Developed to Monitor Infant Health in Hospitals

By WSU Insider, May 19, 2022

U.S. and South Korean researchers have designed a wireless, bioelectronic pacifier to monitor the electrolyte levels of infants in Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICUs).

Washington State University's Jong-Hoon Kim said the non-invasive device can provide real-time electrolyte readings in lieu of blood draws.  The researchers adapted a commercially available pacifier to sample the infant's saliva via microfluidic channels, which are equipped with sensors that measure sodium and potassium ion concentrations.

Caregivers receive this data wirelessly through Bluetooth.  Kim said the device is part of an overarching project to make NICU treatment less disruptive for babies.

From WSU Insider  

Advances in Image Captioning

 Another example of an area we worked in, Webinar, details at the link:

AI advances in image captioning: Describing images as well as people do

Image captioning is an interesting problem in the intersection between computer vision and natural language processing, and it has attracted great attention from their respective research communities. Recent image captioning models have achieved impressive results on the tasks where large amounts of paired image-caption training data is available. However, they generalize poorly to images in the wild, where there are a wide variety of visual objects that are unseen in the caption corpora for training. This raises the challenge of Novel Object Captioning (NOC), that is, generating captions to describe novel objects unseen in paired image-caption training data, which is especially pertinent in real-world applications.

This webinar will focus on some of the recent vision-language pretraining (VLP) approaches for image captioning. We will cover our latest approaches, including object-semantics aligned pretraining (OSCAR) and visual-vocabulary pretraining (VIVO). We will also discuss their key principles and how we address the core challenges in image caption generation. Join us to learn how our discovery leads to a new image captioning framework that achieves state-of-the-art performance on the nocaps benchmark (developed to evaluate NOC at scale) and surpasses human CIDEr scores on nocaps for the first time.

Visual-vocabulary pretraining (VIVO) conducts pretraining with vision data only. As the method does not need paired image-caption data, it opens the possibility of leveraging large amounts of images, paired with either human-labeled or machine-generated tags. By using VIVO pretraining, the performance of the captioning model, especially on novel objects, has been substantially improved..... ' 

Has Science-based Marketing taken a Pandemic hit?

 Surprised at the suggestion, but interesting. 

Has science-based marketing taken a pandemic hit?

May 20, 2022    In Retailwire  by Tom Ryan

Surveys show that trust in scientists took a hit during the pandemic and it may be impacting science-based marketing claims.

Recent research from John Costello, a marketing professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, along with researchers at Simon Fraser University and Ohio State University, explored how invoking science in the marketing of consumer products can backfire.

The research generally found science-based claims are effective when marketers try to sell the practicality of the product. When trying to sell based on sensory pleasure, consumers are less likely to buy it when it is described as developed using science.

“The reason this occurs is because people stereotype the scientific process as being competent but cold, similar to how they stereotype scientists,” said Prof. Costello in a press release. If consumers become aware that science is necessary in making the product, the backlash against the science claim doesn’t occur, according to the findings.

The research further found those who work in STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and math) don’t exhibit the “science backfire effect.” Researchers, however, also cited public polling concluding that a growing number of Americans have lower trust in science, suggesting that segmentation strategies may be beneficial for marketing managers.

“Our studies suggest that many consumers have mixed feelings about science in product development, despite the fact that societally, we increasingly rely on products produced by science,” Prof. Costello said. “As a result, marketers need to exercise caution when discussing the scientific process used to create products that consumers are buying for taste, enjoyment and other types of pleasure.”

Researchers assessed trust in scientists based on a Pew Research Center December 2021 survey that found only 29 percent of U.S. adults have a great deal of confidence in scientists to act in the best interests of the public, down from 39 percent from a November 2020 survey.  .... ' 

Chinese Hackers Tried to Steal Russian Defense Data

More examples of hacking based warfare.

Chinese Hackers Tried to Steal Russian Defense Data

By The New York Times, May 20, 2022

The emails landed on March 23 in the inboxes of scientists and engineers at several of Russia's military research and development institutes, purportedly sent by Russia's Ministry of Health. They carried a subject line that offered seemingly tantalizing information about a "list of persons under U.S. sanctions for invading Ukraine."

But the emails were actually sent by state-sponsored hackers in China seeking to entice their Russian targets to download and open a document with malware, according to a new report to be released Thursday by the Israeli-American cybersecurity firm Check Point.

The report provides new evidence of Chinese efforts to spy on Russia, pointing to the complexity of the relations between two countries that have drawn closer in solidarity against the United States. It also underscores the sprawling, and increasingly sophisticated, tactics China's cyberspies have used to collect information on an ever-expanding array of targets, including countries it considers friends, like Russia.   ;

The emails landed on March 23 in the inboxes of scientists and engineers at several of Russia's military research and development institutes, purportedly sent by Russia's Ministry of Health. They carried a subject line that offered seemingly tantalizing information about a "list of persons under U.S. sanctions for invading Ukraine."

But the emails were actually sent by state-sponsored hackers in China seeking to entice their Russian targets to download and open a document with malware, according to a new report to be released Thursday by the Israeli-American cybersecurity firm Check Point. ... '

The report provides new evidence of Chinese efforts to spy on Russia, pointing to the complexity of the relations between two countries that have drawn closer in solidarity against the United States. It also underscores the sprawling, and increasingly sophisticated, tactics China's cyberspies have used to collect information on an ever-expanding array of targets, including countries it considers friends, like Russia ...'

In the NYTimes.  

Designing Societally Beneficial Reinforcement Learning Systems

Integrating game playing.

Designing Societally Beneficial Reinforcement Learning Systems  in Bir Berkeluy

Nathan Lambert, Aaron Snoswell, Sarah Dean, Thomas Krendl Gilbert, Tom Zick,     Apr 29, 2022

Deep reinforcement learning (DRL) is transitioning from a research field focused on game playing to a technology with real-world applications. Notable examples include DeepMind’s work on controlling a nuclear reactor or on improving Youtube video compression, or Tesla attempting to use a method inspired by MuZero for autonomous vehicle behavior planning. But the exciting potential for real world applications of RL should also come with a healthy dose of caution - for example RL policies are well known to be vulnerable to exploitation, and methods for safe and robust policy development are an active area of research.

At the same time as the emergence of powerful RL systems in the real world, the public and researchers are expressing an increased appetite for fair, aligned, and safe machine learning systems. The focus of these research efforts to date has been to account for shortcomings of datasets or supervised learning practices that can harm individuals. However the unique ability of RL systems to leverage temporal feedback in learning complicates the types of risks and safety concerns that can arise.

This post expands on our recent whitepaper and research paper, where we aim to illustrate the different modalities harms can take when augmented with the temporal axis of RL. To combat these novel societal risks, we also propose a new kind of documentation for dynamic Machine Learning systems which aims to assess and monitor these risks both before and after deployment.

What’s Special About RL? A Taxonomy of Feedback

Reinforcement learning systems are often spotlighted for their ability to act in an environment, rather than passively make predictions. Other supervised machine learning systems, such as computer vision, consume data and return a prediction that can be used by some decision making rule. In contrast, the appeal of RL is in its ability to not only (a) directly model the impact of actions, but also to (b) improve policy performance automatically. These key properties of acting upon an environment, and learning within that environment can be understood as by considering the different types of feedback that come into play when an RL agent acts within an environment. We classify these feedback forms in a taxonomy of (1) Control, (2) Behavioral, and (3) Exogenous feedback. The first two notions of feedback, Control and Behavioral, are directly within the formal mathematical definition of an RL agent while Exogenous feedback is induced as the agent interacts with the broader world.

1. Control Feedback

First is control feedback - in the control systems engineering sense - where the action taken depends on the current measurements of the state of the system. RL agents choose actions based on an observed state according to a policy, which generates environmental feedback. For example, a thermostat turns on a furnace according to the current temperature measurement. Control feedback gives an agent the ability to react to unforeseen events (e.g. a sudden snap of cold weather) autonomously.  ....' 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Risk, A Users Guide

 Finished reading.   Many of the examples are military, which is OK by me.  Success and Failure  looking back onto  actions.  Does a nice job of describing military risk and results analyses methods like  'After-action reviews' and results and failure analyses, of course by themselves a way to measure future risk in context. Would have liked more distinctly quantitative forecasting style analyses.   But worth the read.  

Risk: A User's Guide Hardcover – October 5, 2021   by Stanley McChrystal (Author), Anna Butrico (Author)

From the bestselling author of Team of Teams and My Share of the Task, an entirely new way to understand risk and master the unknown.

Retired four-star general Stan McChrystal has lived a life associated with the deadly risks of combat. From his first day at West Point, to his years in Afghanistan, to his efforts helping business leaders navigate a global pandemic, McChrystal has seen how individuals and organizations fail to mitigate risk. Why? Because they focus on the probability of something happening instead of the interface by which it can be managed.

In this new book, General McChrystal offers a battle-tested system for detecting and responding to risk. Instead of defining risk as a force to predict, McChrystal and coauthor Anna Butrico show that there are in fact ten dimensions of control we can adjust at any given time. By closely monitoring these controls, we can maintain a healthy Risk Immune System that allows us to effectively anticipate, identify, analyze, and act upon the ever-present possibility that things will not go as planned.

Drawing on examples ranging from military history to the business world, and offering practical exercises to improve preparedness, McChrystalillustrates how these ten factors are always in effect, and how by considering them, individuals and organizations can exert mastery over every conceivable sort of risk that they might face.

We may not be able to see the future, but with McChrystal’s hard-won guidance, we can improve our resistance and build a strong defense against what we know—and what we don't. .... ' 

Pentagon Making Cybersecurity Progress

Worked at the Pentagon, but long before this level of analysis was being done, but like to see advances being completed.   It is now essential now that cyber security is fundamentally well done.  Here a brief overview.  

Pentagon making progress on cybersecurity amid challenges, watchdog says    By Colin Demarest

The U.S. Government Accountability Office published on May 19 a review of the Department of Defense's cyber efforts to secure controlled unclassified information, sensitive data either created or possessed by the government. (File/Provided) .... 

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense is making significant progress locking down sensitive networks amid cyber challenges from foreign adversaries bent on gaining access to intel, a report from a federal watchdog shows.

The department as of January recorded compliance at 70% or higher  in implementing four select protections for controlled unclassified information, which may include data tied to critical technologies or the development and operation of weapons and defense infrastructure, according to the Government Accountability Office.  .... ' 

Market Overview of Stereoscopic Software Solutions

Currently looking at how Lidar is being used for geology oriented analyses.    Discovered this overview survey regarding stereo Mapping and analyses.  


May 21, 2022 

Vendor-neutral and hardware-independent open-source compendium: Schneider Digital regularly publishes a global market overview of 3D-capable software solutions. Over 300 applications have already been tested for their 3D stereo functionality and certified for operation with 3D monitors or power walls.

Many users from the high-tech sectors of biochemistry / molecular research, geo-information (GIS, photogrammetry & LiDAR), medicine (CT, MRI & ultrasound) or construction (CAD, CAM & 3D printing) – often do not know which of the many software applications offered on the market are capable of stereoscopic visualization with spatial 3D-stereo and therefore true depth-perception, in contrast to the standard, flat and perspective, monoscopic representation.

After two years of intensive research and in cooperation with leading software manufacturers, the company Schneider Digital, recognized for its professional 4K/8K and VR/AR hardware solutions, has now published for the first time a global market overview of all 3D-stereo software solutions. More than 300 applications are currently listed and linked together with their creators in a monthly updated community-based database. Schneider Digital first checks the individual applications for their basic 3D-stereo functionality in order to then certify them individually for plug & play operation with its 3D monitors or the smart VR wall. The overview provides an open platform for users and software manufacturers, on which they can quickly and easily find stereoscopic software solutions tailored to their requirements: https://www.3d-pluraview.com/en/application-field  ....   '

For Better Understanding of Deep Learning

Very good extensive piece.

A Deeper Understanding of Deep Learning   By Don Monroe

Communications of the ACM, June 2022, Vol. 65 No. 6, Pages 19-20   10.1145/3530686

Deep learning should not work as well as it seems to: according to traditional statistics and machine learning, any analysis that has too many adjustable parameters will overfit noisy training data, and then fail when faced with novel test data. In clear violation of this principle, modern neural networks often use vastly more parameters than data points, but they nonetheless generalize to new data quite well.

The shaky theoretical basis for generalization has been noted for many years. One proposal was that neural networks implicitly perform some sort of regularization—a statistical tool that penalizes the use of extra parameters. Yet efforts to formally characterize such an "implicit bias" toward smoother solutions have failed, said Roi Livni, an advanced lecturer in the department of electrical engineering of Israel's Tel Aviv University. "It might be that it's like a needle in a haystack, and if we look further, in the end we will find it. But it also might be that the needle is not there."

A Profusion of Parameters

Recent research has clarified that learning systems operate in an entirely different regime when they are highly overparameterized, such that more parameters let them generalize better. Moreover, this property is shared not just by neural networks but by more comprehensible methods, which makes more systematic analysis possible.

"People were kind of aware that there were two regimes," said Mikhail Belkin, a professor in the Haliciolu Data Science Institute of the University of California, San Diego. However, "I think the clean separation definitely was not understood" prior to work he and colleagues published in 2019. "What you do in practice," such as forced regularization or early stopping of training, "mixes them up." ... ' 

Net-zero Transition in the Wake of the War in Ukraine

 Ultimate meaning in how much time and integrated level of risks?

The net-zero transition in the wake of the war in Ukraine: A detour, a derailment, or a different path?

May 19, 2022 | Article  McKinsey   By Hamid Samandari, Dickon Pinner, Harry Bowcott, and Olivia White

The Russian invasion of Ukraine1 has ushered in a humanitarian crisis of a scale not seen on European soil since the Second World War, a level of geopolitical tension not experienced since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a set of rapidly evolving political, economic, and societal responses and counterresponses whose ramifications can scarcely be estimated at this point. Nor are there signs of an imminent resolution on the horizon.

As Russia is one of the world’s largest producers of oil, gas, and commodities, one can naturally expect that the massive and universal effort required to address the world’s looming climate crisis would also be swept up in the maelstrom. This raises the question of whether the war and its aftermath will prove to be a limited detour from the previous path of net-zero transition, or a true fork in the road and a far more consequential redirection.

It seems clear at this point the war will complicate the transition’s path in the short term. In the longer term, however, the logic of energy security and economics could converge to kick net-zero transition efforts into higher gear. Bold moves would be needed at unprecedented speed to boost energy-efficiency measures and adopt renewable-energy alternatives to fossil fuels. If adopted, such actions could drive net-zero technologies down their respective cost curves and build a pathway to faster decarbonization in other regions.

Such outcomes would not be surprising in light of history; conflict has often accelerated energy transitions. The 19th century’s naval wars accelerated a shift from wind- to coal-powered vessels. World War I brought about a shift from coal to oil. World War II introduced nuclear energy as a major power source. In each of these cases, wartime innovations flowed directly to the civilian economy and ushered in a new era.2 The war in Ukraine is different in that it is not prompting the energy innovation itself but making the need for it clearer. Still, the potential impact could be equally transformative.  ... '