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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Powering new Chips with Better Algorithms

A continued race between hardware and software ...

We Need Next Generation Algorithms To Harness The Power Of Today's AI Chips
 by Greg Diamos is the Head of Systems Research at Baidu Silicon Valley AI Lab.

At the GTC technology conference this year, NVIDIA launched their latest and most advanced GPU called Volta. At the center of this chip is Tensor Core, an Artificial Intelligence accelerator that that is poised to usher in the next phase of AI applications. However, our current AI algorithms are not fully utilizing this accelerator, and for us to achieve another major breakthrough in AI, we need to change our software. ... " 

Google and Walmart Team Up

New multi retailer giant teaming proposed.

Watch out Amazon: Google and Walmart form e-commerce alliance to battle online retail giant  By Nat Levy

" ... Starting in late September, customers will be able to make Walmart purchases through Google Express, an online marketplace where customers can purchase and set up delivery from stores like Target and Walgreens. Walmart items will also be available through the Google Assistant and Google Home smart speaker, which competes with Amazon’s Echo, the market leader for voice-controlled devices. Walmart shoppers can link their customer accounts to Google and get personalized recommendations. ... " 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Machine Learning for Photography

Worked in this space, interesting how this was able to break through.

Supercharging your image: Machine learning for photography applications
Advanced capabilities for image retrieval and processing are relatively new and powered to a large extent by advances in machine learning technology. We present a brief history of this space, and share the story of how Shutterstock has embraced this technology and what it does for them. ... " 

By George Anadiotis   In ZDnet

AI, Machine Learning Cheat Sheets

I am intrigued by the notion of 'cheat sheets'.   These are short,  usually visual reference sheets for complex topics.    They can be useful for reference of you are an expert in a topic, and you just need the syntax,  or if you need a quick learning reference on a topic you are less expert about.  Nice idea, and since we can have all this available online now with a link, very handy.   Here via O'Reilly. Took a look, good job, but as in all of these efforts, value depends on needs. Would like to see more links to 2nd level references.   A set of term definitions, linked to specific sheets,  is also often useful.

Cheat Sheets for AI, Neural Networks, Machine Learning, Deep Learning & Big Data,   collected by Stefan Kojouharov 

Frequent Flaw of AI Implementation

Good cautious piece regarding implementation in the complex enterprise.  But hardly unique to AI.   Cae of any analytics, unless you are plugging a number into a strictly defined process control system. Results are statistical and often implemented inexactly by people.  So I remove 'fatal', its always a strong caution: how you implement the results into process.    Mention of ERP is also good here, its often part of a larger system, but rarely considered that way, was our experience.

In MIT Sloan Management Review
The Fatal Flaw of AI Implementation   by Jeanne Ross

There is no question that artificial intelligence (AI) is presenting huge opportunities for companies to automate business processes. However, as you prepare to insert machine learning applications into your business processes, I’d recommend that you not fantasize about how a computer that can win at Go or poker can surely help you win in the marketplace. A better reference point will be your experience implementing your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or another enterprise system. Yes, effective ERP implementations enhanced the competitiveness of many companies, but a greater number of companies found the experience more of a nightmare. The promised opportunity never came to fruition.

Why am I raining on the AI parade? Because, as with enterprise systems, AI inserted into businesses drives value by improving processes through automation. But eventually, the outputs of most automated processes require people to do something. As most managers have learned the hard way, computers can process data just fine, but that processing isn’t worth much if people are feeding them bad data in the first place or don’t know what to do with information or analysis once it’s provided.

With Cynthia Beath, Monideepa Tarafdar, and Kate Moloney, I’ve been studying how companies insert value-adding AI algorithms into their processes. As other researchers and practitioners have observed, we are finding that most machine learning applications augment, rather than replace, human efforts. In doing so, they demand changes in what people are doing. And in the case of AI — even more than was true with ERPs — those changes eliminate many nonspecialized tasks and create skilled tasks that require good judgment and domain expertise.   .... " 

Samsung Bixby Rolling to 200 Countries

Virtual Assistant Bixby is interesting to watch for the large number and types of devices that Samsung can use it for.   Still no indication of how 'AI' it is, please point me to somewhere I can test.

Samsung's Bixby rolled out in 200 countries  In the BBC
Samsung's voice-controlled digital assistant Bixby is being rolled out in 200 countries from today. It is Samsung's equivalent of Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant - which is pre-installed already in Samsung phones as they run the Android operating system.

Bixby will initially be available in only two languages - US English and South Korean. The launch had been delayed since April.

Samsung did not give a reason at the time but early testers of a limited demo model - including the BBC - had reported that it failed to understand commands.

The firm's latest device, the Galaxy Note 8, is due to be launched on 23 August.

What makes Bixby different from other voice assistants is that it is deeply integrated with functionalities unique to Samsung devices, said Ian Fogg, analyst at IHS Markit.

"Samsung always differentiates its phones by adding a lot of its own features to Android," he said. These include tailored support for its own hardware such as the curved edge screen, stylus, VR support and camera. .... " 

Links to all my coverage of assistants.

Biology of the Evolution of Cooperation

Very old problem in Biology.   Why should organisms cooperate? A solution?  Could this same technique be used when solving genetic algorithms?  Or say the collaborative genetic evolution of intelligent swarms?

New Model of Evolution Finally Reveals How Cooperation Evolves

By treating evolution as a thermodynamic process, theorists have solved one the great problems in biology.    by Emerging Technology from the arXiv  June 21, 2017

One of the great unanswered question in biology is why organisms have evolved to cooperate. The long-term benefits of cooperation are clear—look at the extraordinary structures that termites build, for example, or the complex society humans have created.

But evolution is a random process based on the short-term advantages that emerge in each generation. Of course, individuals can cooperate or act selfishly, and this allows them to accrue benefits or suffer costs, depending on the circumstances. But how this behavior can spread and lead to the long-term emergence of cooperation as the dominant behavior is a conundrum that has stumped evolutionary biologists for decades. ... " 

An AI with Imagination

Google's DeepMind creates an AI with 'imagination'

The AI firm is developing algorithms that simulate the human ability to construct plans   By Libby Plummer

 " ... The real world is complex, rules are not so clearly defined and unpredictable problems often arise," explain the DeepMind researchers in a blog post. "Even for the most intelligent agents, imagining in these complex environments is a long and costly process."

The researchers have developed "imagination-augmented agents" (I2As) – a neural network that learns to extract information that might be useful for future decisions, while ignoring anything irrelevant. These I2As can learn different strategies to construct plans, choosing from a broad spectrum of strategies.

"This work complements other model-based AI systems, like AlphaGo, which can also evaluate the consequences of their actions before they take them," the DeepMind research team told WIRED.

"What differentiates these agents is that they learn a model of the world from noisy sensory data, rather than rely on privileged information such as a pre-specified, accurate simulator. Imagination-based approaches are particularly helpful in situations where the agent is in a new situation and has little direct experience to rely on, or when its actions have irreversible consequences and thinking carefully is desirable over spontaneous action." .... " 

Kroger Begins Home Delivery in Cincinnati

Have been watching Kroger assemble online orders in their Sharonville Ohio store for some time now as I shopped.   These were for packing lot pickup..  Now they are starting to provide an option to directly ship the orders to homes.  At about $12 per shipment.   More in this article from The Cincinnati Enquirer:  Kroger begins home delivery in Cincinnati.  "... The service is provided by a vendor, West Chester The Grocery Runners, which has been independently providing local delivery since 2016 from Krogers offering the grocer's store-pickup service ClickList. ... " 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Camera Obscura Eclipse

91%  Eclipse, Camera Obscura, Pinhole effect,  filtered through a Maple, dramatically reflected on our front porch.



And on same Porch, closer focusing tree creates tiny suns and 3D effect:


NYC Algorithms and Optimization Site

Some interesting writeups.   In the Google Research Blog:

Announcing the NYC Algorithms and Optimization Site
Monday, August 21, 2017

Posted by Vahab Mirrokni, Principal Research Scientist and Xerxes Dotiwalla, Product Manager, NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team

New York City is home to several Google algorithms research groups. We collaborate closely with the teams behind many Google products and work on a wide variety of algorithmic challenges, like optimizing infrastructure, protecting privacy, improving friend suggestions and much more.

Today, we’re excited to provide more insights into the research done in the Big Apple with the launch of the NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team page. The NYC Algorithms and Optimization Team comprises multiple overlapping research groups working on large-scale graph mining, large-scale optimization and market algorithms.     ....  " 

Using the Blockchain to Clean Up the Niger Delta


This seemed new, and wondered how it worked, gets back to how a Blockchain  is a database.   And here connected to an online sensor database of  participants.

Using the Blockchain to Clean Up the Niger Delta

“We’re on the cusp of proving that blockchain has the potential to really change the way we think about social impact.” –Ben Siegel

“We’re looking to use feature phones and create a communication channel [between] the villager and our platform so that there’s an ability for the villager to be a 24/7 monitor” — not only for spills, but also for acts of terrorism such as bombing of pipelines and illegal refineries, Nnadi says. Such activities cost oil companies and the government a fortune and thus they could be motivated to help groups like community nonprofits. The basic thesis of the pilots is to “empower the 99 actors against the one bad actor.”

Sustainability International is planning to launch several pilots in the Niger Delta over the next year, starting with small, controlled tests. Its initial endeavor is actually to glean information about the clean-up process by doing the work manually at first and then adding layers of technology as appropriate. The nonprofit plans to work with people in the village instead of bringing in workers from outside the area; the blockchain will be piloted afterwards. “The core problems of our use case that we are looking to solve are provenance, payments, security and identity,” Nnadi says. ... " 

What do Customers Want from VR or AR?

What do consumers want when using AR or VR to shop?    by George Anderson in RetailWire

It no longer seems like a question of if but when retailers will begin using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to improve the customer experience and drive sales. Recently released research provides some insights into how consumers familiar with the tech want to use it for shopping.

“For retailers, the appeal is obvious,” said Rob Haslehurst, a managing director at L.E.K Consulting, which surveyed 1,000 early adopters for its research. “These technologies are a new way for retailers to do what customers want them to — create compelling shopping experiences and have rich communications with them.”

According to the survey’s finding, 80 percent want to use AR and VR technology to design rooms for their homes. This would involve them browsing virtual or physical showrooms where they can get information about furniture and d├ęcor and then use AR/VR to see what their rooms would look like with the items added. L.E.K. pointed to Lowe’s Holoroom and Wayfair’s VR showrooms as examples of retailers putting the technologies to work. .... "

Microsoft's Coco for Enterprise Blockchain

Announcing the Coco Framework for enterprise blockchain networks
by Mark Russinovich CTO, Microsoft Azure

Blockchain is a transformational technology with the potential to extend digital transformation beyond a company’s four walls and into the processes it shares with suppliers, customers and partners. A growing number of enterprises are investing in blockchain as a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets across trust boundaries and to collaborate on shared business processes, opening up new opportunities for cross-organizational collaboration and imaginative new business models. .... " 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Changing the Face of Retail

Not enough detail thoughts in this CustomerThink piece, but surely we will be doing increased automation and thus augmentation of how we buy and sell.    In part depends on how we define AI. Points here are worth considering and preparing for.

How AI Is Changing The Face Of Retail Industry   by Ankit Singh

Who doesn’t want to have a blissful shopping experience? I think everybody counts in this list, but unluckily the very few get the real blessing while shopping, whether it is the online or offline mode of shopping. Many shoppers prefer to opt for brick and mortar shopping to avoid the horror of the unbearable shopping experience borne by a few unlucky chaps in online shopping, but the busy schedule, demanding lifestyle are two of the major barriers for opting the offline shopping mode, because it is not possible for everyone to indulge in shopping keeping the other important tasks at a bay. On the other hand, the online shopping experience is not always pleasing and can turn into an unforgettable pain, since it always does not deliver what it shows, because as a shopper, you cannot feel the color, texture or get the feel of the product through online shopping, which is the prime reason users prefer an offline shopping mode on online.

Why AI Is Must for Your Retail Business

--- 85% of Customer Interactions will be managed by Artificial Intelligence in Retail by 2020, a report from Gartner. ---

No doubt, online shopping is time-saving and convenient enough, but the loopholes attached to its existence, make it lose its charm, but now there is a bigger turn has been marked with the invasion of Augmented Reality in the retail industry. The emergence of Augmented Reality is nothing new to the users, and it has been experienced well in the Pokemon Go, wherein users were highly engaged and experienced the true taste of virtual reality through their Smartphones, in the same way, AI has made a revolution in the retail sector and is going to surprise the shoppers and the businesses further with its unique inventions. .... " 

Category Management

Admit its been a long time since I have heard of  digitized category management prescription.   It deserves much better analytic method application.  More discussion below:

Is it time to reinvent category management?   In Retailwire   by Graeme McVie

Brian Harris, the “father of category management,” says that it’s past time to reinvent the effort and suggested there’s a need to move onto category management 2.0. Win Weber, another leading proponent, says the retail industry needs to change the way merchandising works because the concept of category management was formed before the internet was commercialized.

It’s not just the internet that wasn’t around when category management came into vogue. Data analytics capabilities were a fraction of what they are today. Data capture and the ability to deliver actionable information to front line employees are now several generations advanced. So how do we reinvent category management with technology that is geometrically more powerful? ... "

Saturday, August 19, 2017

More Replenishment

More looks at the retail replenishment angle,  with discussion,  also see Amazon's use of this idea:

Will the ‘SmartStockUp’ program drive replenishment sales for Boxed?   by Matthew Stern

Consumers buy staple products in bulk to avoid running out, but it still invariably happens. E-tailer Boxed, whose business model is often said to resemble an e-commerce take on wholesale clubs like Costco, is trying a new method to remind customers to replenish.

Boxed has piloted a new program called SmartStockUp with about a quarter of its user base and is now expanding it to all its B2C customers, according to TechCrunch. SmartStockUp uses information it has about customer habits, such as purchase data, along with broader restocking trends to anticipate when customers will need to replenish a particular item. Boxed then displays a “Need this Now” or “Need this Soon” recommendation when the customer visits the website. .... " 

Introduction to GAN Engine, Applications

Good piece I have sent forward as an introduction to Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs)  Especially with regard to useful applications.

Posted by Luba Belokon in DSC:

GAN Engine and Applications: 
Generative adversarial networks (GANs) are a class of neural networks that are used in unsupervised machine learning. They help to solve such tasks as image generation from descriptions, getting high resolution images from low resolution ones, predicting which drug could treat a certain disease, retrieving images that contain a given pattern, etc.    Our team asked a data scientist, Anton Karazeev, to make the introduction to GANs engine and their applications in everyday life.  ....  " 

More on the Jinan Project


China Set to Launch the World’s First Quantum Communication Network  in Futurism. 

China has successfully tested the Jinan Project, and is set to begin using the system by the end of August. This marks a world milestone in the development of quantum technology, and identifies China as one of the world leaders in the field.  .... "

China Advances in Quantum Computiing

Quantum computing followed here for years, before China was even mentioned in the space:

China has successfully tested the Jinan Project, and is set to begin using the system by the end of August. This marks a world milestone in the development of quantum technology, and identifies China as one of the world leaders in the field.

By the end of August, China plans to rollout the Jinan Project — the world’s first unhackable computer network, which is based on quantum principles. The project uses the city of Jinan as a quantum computer hub that boosts the Beijing-Shanghai quantum network due to its central geographical position between the two larger cities.  ... " 

Apple and Augmented Reality

We have seen AR demonstrated on the phone for a long time, but it has not broken through to real value or common use.   Is that about to change?

Apple Bets the Future of Augmented Reality will be on your Phone
THE AR REVOLUTION will come not with a bang, but a tape measure. At least, that seems to be the lesson so far from ARKit, Apple’s new augmented-reality platform.

ARKit lets developers build AR apps—which integrate digital experiences into the physical world via iPhone or iPad, a la Pokemon Go. Those apps will be available to consumers when iOS 11 arrives in September. But developers have started tinkering—creating tools that let you see how furniture fits in a room, or quickly calculate the area of your kitchen. Compared to the likes of Magic Leap or Google Glass, these apps are simple, almost trivial. But that smallness might be precisely what makes them so potentially huge.

Matthew Miesnieks, a VC who led AR research and development efforts at Samsung, calls ARKit “the biggest thing that’s happened to the AR industry since it began,” and he’s not alone in his enthusiasm. By getting AR in the hands of millions of iPhone users, Apple is poised to become the world’s most powerful and popular purveyor of augmented-reality apps. And by opening up its developers’ kit, it’s powering hundreds of experiments into what, precisely, this medium is good for. ....  "

Friday, August 18, 2017

WorkFusion

Continue to look at means to automate the specific process of business. Making it better, faster, cheaper. And ultimately include intelligent and cognitive elements to streamline and have these systems adapt to context.  I see that Deloitte is a partner.

Brought to my attention: WorkFusion.

NEW YORK, July 18, 2017 — WorkFusion today released Intelligent Automation 2017 Sunbird, a comprehensive product update that enables WorkFusion customers to automate more work with less effort and easily scale the benefits of automation across a business. Sunbird brings more of WorkFusion’s vision of low-code RPA and cognitive automation into reality and makes its flagship product, Smart Process Automation (SPA), faster, simpler, more scalable and more secure.

“We created Intelligent Automation 2017 Sunbird update in collaboration with our customers,” says WorkFusion’s Head of Product, Mikhail Abramchik. “Their feedback inspired us to build features and improvements to make our product easier to use and more efficient.”

Key customer-driven benefits of the Sunbird update release include:
• Cognitive bots that learn 8 times faster, delivering automation quicker
• More out-of-the-box use cases for faster, easier deployment
• RPA recorder to create bots without coding
• RPA API and universal driver means 50% less effort for surface and Excel automation
• Best-in-class password vault for enterprise-grade security
• Load balancing to eliminate redundancy, which reduces infrastructure cost

These improvements translate to a better experience for WorkFusion’s customers across the boardfrom business users to developers to the C-suite. A simpler process for setting up cognitive bots allows business users to automate more with less coding, while enhanced developer tools and OCR plugin reduce the time and resources developers spend on RPA coding. From an executive perspective, all these enhancements help to scale Intelligent Automation across an entire operation to meet pressing transformation goals, which means increased ROI and better service delivery.

Says Abramchik: “We’re proud to say that Intelligent Automation 2017 Sunbird offers more possibilities to transform and reinvent businesses than any other RPA or cognitive automation product on the market today.”

About WorkFusion
WorkFusion Intelligent Automation empowers enterprise operations to digitize. WorkFusion delivers the quick wins of robotic process automation (RPA) and the longer-term transformation and ROI of AI-powered cognitive automation through products purpose-built for enterprise operations. The world’s leading global banks, insurance, healthcare companies, and BPO firms use WorkFusion Intelligent Automation to become leaner, more productive and agile.  .... " 

Disruption is not the Measure

Sometimes all I hear is disruption, but it is not all there is, and itself is not a measure.  We made money for many years on improvement alone.  So look for disruption, but include hints to value along the way.  By Deloitte in the WSJ:

Disruption Is Not the Key to Winning
Companies can create competitive advantage by leveraging digital technologies to provide exceptional experiences for customers. Six enablers can help.

“Disruptor” is a term used frequently to describe successful modern companies. Airbnb is often credited with disrupting the lodging industry, Uber is cited as a disruptor of the transportation business, and Amazon is widely seen as disrupting retail. Yet while these companies have certainly transformed their industries through innovative business models, disruption isn’t the yardstick for measuring success.  ... " 

Stats on Privately Funded Drone Companies

CBInsights: A look at privately funded drone companies.   " ... .While the US accounts for nearly two-thirds of all drone investment activity, there are at least 11 other countries making bets in the space  ....  Since 2012, private drone companies have raised over $1.6B across 300+ equity investments. Drones make up the second largest sub-category in IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and account for roughly 20% of total deal activity.

Three of the earliest private drone companies and largest in terms of total funding are 3D Robotics, Airware, and RedZone Robotics. While they lead in the US, expanding internationally has been a challenge because of the complex international regulatory environment, both at country and local levels.  ... " 

Mixed Reality Partner Program

Received:

Introducing the Mixed Reality Partner Program

If your company is a digital agency, systems integrator, or solution provider, the Mixed Reality Partner Program can equip your company with the skills to successfully drive commercially-focused mixed reality solutions for your clients. .... " 

Georgia Institute of Technology Robotarium

Magnus Egerstedt, executive director for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the new Robotarium. Been a while since I have been to Ga Tech's lab spaces, we visited while I ran tech in our company's innovation centers.  Impressive then, and they continue to improve.   Had seen the remote lab idea suggested before, but did not know they were doing this.   Need to get there.

This Robot Lab Has No Idea What Its Robots Are Doing    By The Wall Street Journal 
Magnus Egerstedt, executive director for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the new Robotarium. 

In the Robotarium, a 10-square-foot table inside the Atlanta laboratory of Magnus Egerstedt, executive director of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, up to 50 ground bots and 20 aerial copters can be remotely controlled by researchers often from other schools, or even foreign countries ....

The Georgia Institute of Technology's (Georgia Tech) Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines supports the Robotarium, an arena where scientists can run experiments on remote-controlled machines.

Georgia Tech's Magnus Egerstedt says unpredictability is a regular feature of the Robotarium, where swarms of ground and airborne robots are put through their paces. Researchers use these swarms to test search-and-rescue scenarios, model flight formations for the U.S. Department of Defense, and predict the interactions of fleets of autonomous cars. Cameras located throughout the arena record the trials so the researchers conducting them can see the results of their experiments.  ... " 

Fingerprint Analysis Scoring

Recall seeing this problem as a classic pattern recognition issue,  closer to being solved.  Note this addresses knowledge content in a pattern, where else might this be used? Anywhere you might want to prioritize an action.

Scientists Automate Key Step in Forensic Fingerprint Analysis
By U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology 

Researchers at Michigan State University and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed an algorithm that automates the fingerprint-analysis process.

The researchers trained the machine-learning algorithm on data from 31 fingerprint experts who had analyzed 100 latent prints each, scoring the quality of each on a 1-to-5 scale. The prints and their scores were used to train the algorithm to determine how much information a latent print contains.

The researchers tested the algorithm by having it score a group of new latent prints. The team submitted those scored prints to Automated Fingerprint Identification System software connected to a database of more than 250,000 rolled prints. The researchers found the scoring algorithm performed slightly better than the average of human examiners involved in the study.

They next want to test the system on a larger dataset, which will enable them to improve the algorithm's performance and more accurately measure its error rate.

From U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology

(More details at the link)

Every Possible Song Has Some Non-Zero Streaming Value

When looking at the streaming concoctions of smart speakers. I quickly noticed the increase of so called 'mood' music playlists, aimed at providing backgrounds for sleeping, studying, working, concentrating, cooking, vanity, etc.   Unclear if any of this works.  But the user, including myself, is quick to bite and try.  And a slightly manipulated search can quickly get you there.   I was not the first to notice this.  Even giants like Spotify can create such 'fake' music.

One company is already commissioning  a version of 'Happy birthday to your name', for every possible given name.  Starting with the most common.  The one for 'Matthew' has already been included in 400,000 playlists.  What is 'fake' is debatable.  Perhaps written by machine and performed by studio artists.   Or created out of bits and snippets of real music.  Or created in its entirety by AI.   Regardless, cheaper to license than music by real artists, and much less expensive than from real, famous composers and artists.   Will we ultimately have to specify detect and specify 'real' music?

The accusation against Spotify in particular is written about in the NYT.  And an article about related efforts in Vulture.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

1,600 Alexas put in AZ State Engineering Dorm Rooms

This could be a very big deal, if loaded with the right software.  And for prompting potential forward looking skill development.   Think smarter.  Will continue to follow what come out of that.  Anyone from the AZ State project, please do contact me.

Amazon will put 1,600 Echo Dots in Arizona State University’s engineering student dorms ... Talk about real-world application   By Dani Deahl on August 17, 2017

This year, students at Arizona State University will have the opportunity to live in college housing with Echo Dots in a program that encourages engineering students to practice voice user interface development skills on consumer hardware.

ASU has built a new work / live space for first-year engineering students called the Tooker House, and those moving into its residence hall will be able to opt in to the program and receive an Echo Dot for their dorm room. The school says Amazon has donated 1,600 Echo Dots and is also providing developer kits to help add the technology to ASU’s existing engineering curriculum.

Outside of Tooker House, any student in ASU’s engineering school can enroll in one of three upcoming fall courses that teach concepts like voice user interface development, which includes Alexa skills. The students will be encouraged to independently build Alexa skills outside the classroom using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), which can ideally be incorporated into student project programs, or solve needs in the local community. ... " 

Respecting Absurd Ideas

Always liked the idea of exploring the edge of possibilities.  Here a look at how to exploit absurd suggestions.   Which break down into Respect the idea, and Play with it.   I would add,  always use the promoter of the idea as the 'expert' in its application .... they can school you in its application, or even why it won't work in context.   Stretch it.  Explore with analogies.   Absurdity can be good.

strategy+business: Corporate Strategies and News Articles on Global Business, Management, Competition and Marketing
 Two Simple Concepts for Getting the Most from Absurd Ideas ... " 

Classifications

We all like to classify things,  its efficient.   Mathematicians just like to classify more formally.  And we use that in data science so we can make use of the results.  It is learning.  An article in Quanta Mag talks this:  Why Mathematicians Like to Classify Things.

Agile in the C-Suite

In Bain & Company:

How to Make Agile Work for the C-Suite   By Eric Garton, Andy Noble

Many companies are attempting a radical — and often rapid — shift from hierarchical structures to more agile environments, in order to operate at the speed required by today’s competitive marketplace. Companies like ANZ, the Australian-based banking giant, have made explicit commitments to adopt agile principles, while others like Zappos, are on the bleeding edge of organizational transformation. Many stopping points exist along the continuum from hierarchy to holacracy. To successfully transform to a more agile enterprise, companies must make conscious choices about where and how to become agile. They have to decide where to adopt agile principles and mindsets, where to use agile problem-solving methodologies to dynamically address strategic and organizational challenges, and where to more formally deploy the full agile model, including self-managed teams.

At Bain & Company, we do not believe that companies should try to use agile methods everywhere. In many functional areas, such as plant maintenance, purchasing, sales calls, or accounting, more traditional structures and processes likely will deliver lower cost, more repeatable outcomes and more scalable organizations. Sorting through every function and every part of your company’s operating model to determine which parts of the agile playbook to adopt requires some deep thinking. It also means you have to figure out how to make the agile and traditional parts of your organization effectively operate with one another. This takes time. .... " 

Inc Looks at Skillz

I see that former colleague Andrew Paradise's game company continues to grow.  An article in Inc has lots of detail:

How the No. 1 Fastest-Growing Company in America Turned Video Games Into a $54 Million Cash Cow    How did America's fastest-growing company learn the skills to conquer? Countless hours of e-sports..... "    By David Whitford  Inc Editor-at-large@davidwhitford