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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Wal-Mart Humana Partnership

New partnerships, and in-store implications.

5 Ways A Walmart-Humana Partnership Could Change Everyone’s In-Store Experience   By Bryan Pearson 

If Walmart’s reported interest in acquiring or expanding its relationship with health insurer Humana HUM +1.44% is to materialize, it would be the widest-reaching move toward transforming retail from a seller of goods to a seller of health. And that would mean the traditional retail store, across a variety of segments, would change.

Walmart joins other retailers pursuing the insurance industry, including CVS Health, which is in the midst of acquiring Aetna, and Amazon, which is partnering with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Berkshire Hathaway to establish an independent company to provide affordable healthcare to employees.

The potential difference is while CVS and Amazon are focused specifically on providing healthcare services to consumers and employees, Walmart and Humana could focus on home health and preventing disease.   ... " 

Emerging Markets Innovation

Chief executive says the company’s innovation pipeline may be the strongest it has ever been.  By Keith Nunes in Food Business News.

Emerging markets, innovation drive Unilever’s 2017 results
Chief executive says the company’s innovation pipeline may be the strongest it has ever been. ... " 

Casinos Watching for Weapons

Good to watch what the Casinos are doing, as we did, they have immediate risk with regard to assets, so are closer to investing logically in advanced methods in their existing architecture.

Las Vegas Casino Uses Artificial Intelligence To ID Customers Carrying Weapons

Cognitive Microwave Radar combines short-range radar with machine learning algorithms to scan individual guests for guns, knives, and bombs in real time—without forcing them to line up and walk through metal detectors. Units are small enough to hide inside existing infrastructure. Most people never realize they're there - exactly how (the casino) wants it. "The best analogy is antivirus software. It's equipped with a set of signatures. But it’s constantly checking the database for new ones."
Activate satellite view in Google Maps and head to the Las Vegas strip, and you'll see it: a strange smattering of Y-shaped buildings. Mandalay Bay. Monte Carlo. Treasure Island. The Mirage. Their blueprints put gambling at the center of everything, funneling visitors past slot machines and card tables whether they're en route to a show, their room, a restaurant, or a retail shop. For years, the casino floor was where Vegas resorts made most of their money, and the Y was devilishly good at monetizing it.

The Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino was the first megacasino to feature the design—a bit of trivia that Mark Waltrip, Westgate Resort's chief operating officer, relays with a mixture of pride and irony. Y-shaped buildings have their issues, after all. For one thing, gambling isn't the moneymaker it used to be; revenues from other extravagances—hotels, food, booze, shopping—outstripped gaming in the late '80s. For another: Y-shaped buildings pose a unique security challenge. "The bulk of your guests are in this highly concentrated area, just lingering," Waltrip says. Ensuring their safety— and the safety of the resort's assets—requires more than a few cameras and guards.   .... "

Saturday, April 21, 2018

NASA Using Smart Contracts

Been examining applications of smart contracts in general,  and also as implemented by Blockchain architectures.   Here something new from work by NASA.    NASA has previously done quite a bit of work using autonomous navigation, say for planetary rovers,  how is this different?    Examining.    Welcome some input.

NASA Researches Ethereum Blockchain Tech for Deep Space Exploration 
CCN Magazine    By Samburaj Das

A U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research project aims to use the Ethereum blockchain's smart contracts technology to automate spacecraft maneuvering while avoiding space debris. The "Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm" project will leverage blockchain to make space communications and navigation more efficient and safer. Jin Wei Kocsis, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Akron, received a three-year, $330,000 NASA grant to develop a cognitive architecture for the project that will eliminate the need for spacecraft to rely on information from scientists on Earth. If successful, Ethereum-based smart contracts will help spacecraft "think on their own" to detect and evade floating space debris. The decentralized architecture could help the spacecraft automate data gathering, freeing up scientists on Earth to analyze the data rather than calculating flight paths to anticipate environmental hazards.  .... " 

Real Time Data, Real Time Decisions

Useful introduction.  Note the usefulness in many domains, from supply chain to manufacturing to finance.    There were some also some recent suggestions that this might be neeed because data cannot be held because of regulatory changes, and needs to be used immediately.  Whats the best decision you can make in limited time, before the data mush be released?

From big data to fast data
Designing application architectures for real-time decisions.
By Raul Estrada in O'Reilly

For more about building fast-data architectures that meet your real-time decision data needs, download a free copy of an excerpt from Designing Data-Intensive Applications, compliments of Mesosphere.

Enterprise data needs change constantly but at inconsistent rates, and in recent years change has come at an increasing clip. Tools once considered useful for big data applications are not longer sufficient. When batch operations predominated, Hadoop could handle most of an organization’s needs. Development in other IT areas (think IoT, geolocation, etc.) have changed the way data is collected, stored, distributed, processed and analyzed. Real-time decision needs complicate this scenario and new tools and architectures are needed to handle these challenges efficiently.  ... "

What is AI Anyway?

A definition we also struggled with.  Back then it was rule bases and much simpler learning analytics and updating.  Much has improved, but the expectations are still very high.  And that does, as he suggests,  distract us.    Especially when also heavily driven by tech company marketers.  Good thoughts here:

Artificial Intelligence — The Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet  By Michael Jordan in Medium

Michael I. Jordan is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and the Department of Statistics at UC Berkeley.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the mantra of the current era. The phrase is intoned by technologists, academicians, journalists and venture capitalists alike. As with many phrases that cross over from technical academic fields into general circulation, there is significant misunderstanding accompanying the use of the phrase. But this is not the classical case of the public not understanding the scientists — here the scientists are often as befuddled as the public. The idea that our era is somehow seeing the emergence of an intelligence in silicon that rivals our own entertains all of us — enthralling us and frightening us in equal measure. And, unfortunately, it distracts us. ....  "

Digital Twins for Personalized Medicine.

Reminds me in the human sense of agent based models.   And their use to address group behavior. Interesting, but not necessarily predictive.   The article quotes George Box, who said  'All Models are wrong, some are useful'.    How correct will the models be, how useful?   We expect personal accuracy from medicine.  Worth examining.

Digital Twins for personalized medicine: promising, with caveats    By Neil Raden  in SiliconAngle

" ... Digital Twins, a concept from the “industrial internet of things” or IIoT, is the discipline of devising highly capable simulation models, especially those that consume streaming data from sensors to anticipate maintenance issues, impending failure of components and improving performance. In terms of the degree of difficulty of modeling, Digital Twins for IIoT machines such as jet engines, oil wells and wind turbines are actually at the lower end as they employ detailed knowledge of the engineering of the objects. These Digital Twins may be quite complex, but because they are well-understood, the models are more likely to be useful.

Devising a simulation model of human behavior, such as the classical propensity models, is much more difficult because humans are so unpredictable and engineering approaches obviously don’t apply. In effect, these models may do a good job of predicting propensity based (on) many criteria, but at any given moment for any given individual, their predictive capability is quite low.  .... " 

What Machine Learning Engineers Need to Know

Useful piece. 

What machine learning engineers need to know
The O’Reilly Data Show Podcast: Jesse Anderson and Paco Nathan on organizing data teams and next-generation messaging with Apache Pulsar.     By Ben Lorica

Friday, April 20, 2018

Pattern Recognition in Road Tracing

We had a similar challenge when we managed roads and their quality in Alberta.   We were mostly interested in if the roads had degraded, and needed to manage resources to improve them to a level where they would satisfy predicted transport needs.   We had Aerial and Satellite images.   Now you can selectively deploy drones.   And we needed to include predicted changes like tree growth, storms  and forest fires.  This does some of the things we could have used then.  Perhaps also some applications to supply chain needs?

A new way to automatically build road maps from aerial images
“RoadTracer” system from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory could reduce workload for developers of apps like Google Maps. ....  By Adam Conner-Simons | MIT, CSAIL 

A New Way to Automatically Build Road Maps From Aerial Images 

" ... Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) researchers have developed a system for automatically constructing road maps from aerial images with 45-percent more accuracy than existing methods. The RoadTracer system “is well-suited to map areas of the world where maps are frequently out of date, which includes both places with lower population and areas where there's frequent construction," says MIT professor Mohammad Alizadeh. RoadTracer begins with a known location on a road network, using a neural network to examine the surroundings and determine which point is most likely to be the next part of the road. It adds that point and repeats the process to plot out the network of the road step by step..... " 

Alibabas AI Chips

Much more at the link. 

Alibaba is developing its own AI chips, too in Technology Review
The Chinese e-commerce giant will join a raft of other tech firms in designing its own processors tailored to in-house machine learnings tasks. It's another sign of China's increasing desire to use its own chips. ... " 

AI and Bad Process

More evidence you have to get the context process right, with or without advanced methods. 

Don’t Let Artificial Intelligence Supercharge Bad Processes   in Sam Ransbotham in Sloan Review

When artificial intelligence is used to expedite certain legacy processes, it can act more like a Band-Aid than a cure.

Scenarios describing the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) seem to gravitate toward hyperbole. In wonderful scenarios, AI enables nirvanas of instant optimal processes and prescient humanoids. In doomsday scenarios, algorithms go rogue and humans are superfluous, at best, and, at worst, subservient to the new silicon masters.

However, both of these scenarios require a sophistication that, at least right now, seems far away. Our recent research indicates that most organizations are still in the early stages of AI implementation and nowhere near either of these outcomes.

A more imminent reality is that AI is agnostic and can benefit both good and bad processes. As such, a less dramatic but perhaps more insidious risk than the doomsday scenario is that AI gives new life to clunky or otherwise poorly conceived processes. .... "

Skill Blueprints, Private Skills

More on Skill Blueprints in ZDNet.   Via Walter Riker.

Why Amazon's Alexa Skill Blueprints are a master stroke
Amazon has opened up Alexa to the masses with Alexa Skill Blueprints and integrated the digital assistant even more with families. Here's why these Alexa code-free templates make good business sense.  .... " 

and further, the point is made about PRIVATE skills.  Is that a key aspect of this, like private knowledge?

How to create private Alexa skills without code
Amazon's Alexa Skills Blueprints let anyone with an Alexa device make household skills.
               
 By Sharon Machlis in TechConnect  .... "

Microsoft Securing the Intelligent Edge

Still in private test.   A considerable piece.

Introducing Microsoft Azure Sphere: Secure and power the intelligent edge

Galen Hunt,  Partner Managing Director, Microsoft Azure Sphere .. 

" ... Here, you can read more about how in 2015 a small team of us within Microsoft Research began exploring how to secure this vast number of MCU-powered devices yet to come online. Leveraging years of security experience at Microsoft, and learnings from across the tech industry, we identified The Seven Properties of Highly-Secure Devices. We identified the need for a hardware root of trust to protect and defend the software on a device. We identified the need for multiple layers of defense-in-depth, both in hardware and in software, to repel hackers even if they fully breach one layer of security. We identified the critical need for hardware, software, and cloud to work together to secure a device. Over time the Seven Properties gained traction and became the foundation for a movement within Microsoft – which ultimately brings us to today. ... " 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Retail uses for Machine Learning

Machine Learning for SMB Retailers and Brands.  Talk and panel discussion.  Sponsored by Retailwire.

Here is the recording of the webinar and supporting slides.

Meeting Description: 

Machine Learning can provide SMBs the edge they need to level the playing field.

For small and mid-size retailers and brands (SMBs), it's virtually impossible to compete with the dominant online platforms based on pricing. To maintain margins, SMBs are looking to differentiate in smarter ways — to carve out their own territory in areas rivals can't match. 

Most companies, large and small, already use advanced analytics to optimize processes and decision making, so that's just table stakes in this market. And yet recent advancements have made Machine Learning suites available to SMBs that can help them fortify their competitive strengths. 

We’ll cover ways the retailers can start applying Machine Learning based on their individual readiness, and how it can benefit many areas of their organizations through:

Personalized recommendations based on learned intelligence 

Customer service through chatbot technology

Customer "churn" predictions through Machine Learning

Join us for a "humanizing" look at Machine Learning, including an engaging panel discussion exploring how this emerging tech can offer your business greater competitive opportunities ... 


Alexa Releases Skills Blueprint

OK, easy, and may kick up the Skill count.   But will it increase quality?   No code involved.   It might be better to make it easier to create plug-in capable micro skill-services that can be readily shared.  Not as easy,  as it depends on architecture to make that do-able.    Also note the implication that you might want to create your own private set of skills.  .Say for your home, family, company.   I like that idea.  Perhaps starting from a provided template.  Reaches closer to IFTTT involvement?

Amazon’s new ‘Alexa Blueprints’ let anyone create custom Alexa skills and responses   By Sarah Perez   @sarahintampa in TechCrunch.   

Amazon this morning is introducing “Alexa Blueprints,” a new way for any Alexa owner to create their own customized Alexa skills or responses, without needing to know how to code. The idea is to allow Alexa owners to create their own voice apps, like a trivia game or bedtime stories, or teach Alexa to respond to questions with answers they design – like “Who’s the best mom in the world?,” for example.

You could also create a skill that includes helpful information for the babysitter, which could be triggered by the command, “Alexa, open My Sitter,” Amazon suggests.

“Alexa Skill Blueprints is an entirely new way for you to teach Alexa personalized skills just for you and your family,” explained Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa, in a statement about the launch. “You don’t need experience building skills or coding to get started—my family created our own jokes skill in a matter of minutes, and it’s been a blast to interact with Alexa in a totally new and personal way.”  .... " 

Talk: AI and Business Process

Reminder, later this morning:

Talk by: Chitra Dorai,  IBM Fellow, Vice President and CTO  
“The Real World of AI: Business Processes Reimagined End to End”

19 Apr 2018: 10:30 AM, ET  Access Instructions below.

Talk slides.   Audio Recording.

Abstract: This talk will cover how enterprises are reimagining business processes with Al to bring about a frictionless  front office to back office transformation. Chitra will describe more than 30 cognitive solution use cases that we have  defined to change the way work is done today in Finance, HR and Procurement. I will discuss Al solutions deployment  experience, client case studies and business results that underscore how IBM is helping companies to embed Al in their  processes, and deliver end to end frictionless experiences and new outcomes 

Short bio: Dr. Chitra Dorai is an IBM Fellow and a Master Inventor, and is responsible for Cognitive Solutions and  Services in IBM's Global Business Services as its CTO. Dr. Dorai is a world renowned computer vision researcher and a  banking industry expert, and has received numerous awards and recognition both externally and at IBM for her  groundbreaking research and industry-transforming projects over the last twenty-seven years. 

Access:
Cognitive Systems Institute Group Speaker Series Thursdays 10:30am US Eastern Time
Join the meetings by pointing your web browser to:  https://zoom.us/j/7371462221 ; Callin: (415) 762-9988 or (646) 568-7788 Meeting id 7371462221 ; International Numbers: https://zoom.us/zoomconference.  .... 

Intel Backs off Smart Glasses

Perhaps a bit surprising given the enthusiasm they gave only a short while ago.    They had been working on object analysis as well.   So will we see new moves in this space?  I expect it from Asia.

Intel is giving up on its smart glasses    By Dieter Bohn in TheVerge

Intel has confirmed that it plans to shut down the New Devices Group (NDG), and cease development on the Vaunt smart glasses project we revealed earlier this year. The story was first reported this evening by The Information, which also notes that the closure will probably result in “some layoffs” from the team that was reportedly around 200 people.

Here’s Intel’s statement:

Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences. Not all of these develop into a product we choose to take to market. The Superlight [the codename for Vaunt] project is a great example where Intel developed truly differentiated, consumer augmented reality glasses. We are going to take a disciplined approach as we keep inventing and exploring new technologies, which will sometimes require tough choices when market dynamics don’t support further investment. ... " 

Microsoft Does Offline Translations

Looks impressive based on a demo I saw.   We are closer yet to a universal, mobile and free Babel Fish.  Was never expecting such a combination of features, the very basic idea seemed like fantasy not too long ago.  21 supported languages.  Offline packs for most popular languages.   Camera image text translation.   What other AI will be be carrying around soon?

Microsoft's AI-powered offline translation now runs on any phone
Translator should be more accurate when you're traveling abroad.

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas  in Engadget

Wikipedia Adds Preview Hover

Wikipedia adds a hover over page preview capability to make navigation easier.  Been testing, a nice idea.  Lets you make somewhat fewer clicks while you browse.

Navigating through Wikipedia articles on desktop just got a lot easier    By Olga Vasileva, Wikimedia Foundation ... More usage and testing stats ... 

Page previews, deployed today, is one of the largest changes to desktop Wikipedia made in recent years. .... " 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Your Data Has to be Good. Define Good.

Very good piece, covers lots of topics.  Worth reading.   Without enough quality data, you have nothing.  Key elements of process, like getting everyone involved early and often.  Biases mentioned, but the principle kinds of biases are not enumerated, and are often dependent on the business domain.  I like to count through likely biases and specifically test for some of the worst.

If Your Data Is Bad, Your Machine Learning Tools Are Useless    Thomas C. Redman in the HBR

Poor data quality is enemy number one to the widespread, profitable use of machine learning. While the caustic observation, “garbage-in, garbage-out” has plagued analytics and decision-making for generations, it carries a special warning for machine learning. The quality demands of machine learning are steep, and bad data can rear its ugly head twice — first in the historical data used to train the predictive model and second in the new data used by that model to make future decisions.

To properly train a predictive model, historical data must meet exceptionally broad and high quality standards. First, the data must be right: It must be correct, properly labeled, de-deduped, and so forth. But you must also have the right data — lots of unbiased data, over the entire range of inputs for which one aims to develop the predictive model. Most data quality work focuses on one criterion or the other, but for machine learning, you must work on both simultaneously.  .... " 

Will GDPR Drive us Towards Real-time Analytics?

Some good thoughts on the implications.   At its simplest will this mean we will need to use and release data more quickly?   Thus data will become real time?  At what cost of accuracy?

How GDPR Drives Real-Time Analytics  In DataFloq

New reforms under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) started as an attempt to standardise data protection regulations in 2012. The European Union intends to make Europe “fit for the digital age.” It took four years to finalise the agreements and reach a roadmap on how the laws will be enforced.

The GDPR presents new opportunities as well as difficulties for businesses, digital companies, data collectors, and digital marketers. On the one hand, these regulations will make it more difficult for businesses and data mining firms to collect and analyse customer data for marketers, while on the other, they will present an opportunity for data collectors to innovate and enhance their techniques. This will lead to a better collection of more meaningful data, as customers will be directly involved. .... "

Machine Learning and Chaos

Quite remarkable, if the results can be applied to real world engineering problems.

Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos by By Natalie Wolchover in Quanta Mag

In new computer experiments, artificial-intelligence algorithms can tell the future of chaotic systems.
alf a century ago, the pioneers of chaos theory discovered that the “butterfly effect” makes long-term prediction impossible. Even the smallest perturbation to a complex system (like the weather, the economy or just about anything else) can touch off a concatenation of events that leads to a dramatically divergent future. Unable to pin down the state of these systems precisely enough to predict how they’ll play out, we live under a veil of uncertainty.

But now the robots are here to help.

In a series of results reported in the journals Physical Review Letters and Chaos, scientists have used machine learning — the same computational technique behind recent successes in artificial intelligence — to predict the future evolution of chaotic systems out to stunningly distant horizons. The approach is being lauded by outside experts as groundbreaking and likely to find wide application.

“I find it really amazing how far into the future they predict” a system’s chaotic evolution, said Herbert Jaeger, a professor of computational science at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. ... " 

No indication in the paper abstract of how far such predictions can extend.   Or how their prediction value has been tested.     Technical:    https://arxiv.org/abs/1710.07313    A Challenge still it appears.

See also previous links to signal processing.


Developers Eye View of Smart Contracts

Its all about business rules.  So its about rule based process.  But why do it this way in particular rather than using rule bases and encrypted ledgers ?  Case is made here.  (Much more in full piece at the link)

Make your blockchain smart contracts smarter with business rules
By Stephane Mery and Daniel Selman  IBM

Blockchain already has a profound impact on multi-party business processes. Organizations that use blockchain count on trusted automatic transactions. It provides a framework of trust that you can use to securely automate processes that, until now, were often manual.

Traditionally, in business transactions, when two parties exchange value, they need to share a representation of the exchanged value and of the terms and conditions for the transaction. If they can't fully trust each other, each party maintains its own record of the exchange – a transaction ledger. They also keep their own copies of the rules and processes that govern the contract to exchange value.

Duplicating these records can lead to errors – and fraud. On top of this, the transaction processes are also duplicated, and performed manually and inefficiently. Disputes over discrepancies between the copies of the ledgers and contracts might need to be resolved in court, leading to significant costs, and ultimately delays to the transaction.

Blockchain uses cryptography along with distributed computing and storage technologies to solve the problems inherent in the traditional processes by providing trading parties with a means to share a trusted representation of their transactions and their assets.  ....  " 

Social Proof at the Wikipedia

Roger Dooley writes about the approach of the Wikipedia fundraising.  Many have seen their 'ads', as I have, when doing a Wikipedia search. The argument is  " ... Many people use our service, but few contribute ... "

From the Wikipedia: " ...  Social proof (also known as informational social influence) is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation.   ... "

So you can argue in a way that says:  'Join all the many people who have contributed".  Or,  "Very few people contribute, so please do,  you can make a difference ... "

Wikipedia does the latter.  But suggests the former works better.

I have admit that I contributed based on this effort, and I rarely contribute based on online appeals.  So am I particularly anti-susceptible to this argument?

As a suggestion in the comments says, they certainly have the data and traffic to figure out which approach works better.   ... "

Holograms for Heads-up Displays

Have yet to see really practical and precise visualization via hologram.

Holograms Could Yield Next Wave of Heads-Up Displays
R&D Magazine    By Kenny Walter

A functional prototype heads-up display using holographic optical elements has been developed by researchers at the University of Arizona, a breakthrough that could increase the size of eye boxes used in heads-up displays for planes and cars. The new technology, if installed in a car, would enable a driver to see displayed information even if they moved around or was shorter or taller than average, says University of Arizona researcher Pierre-Alexandre Blanche. The researchers propose that laser light interactions could be used to fabricate holographic elements in light-sensitive materials that are smaller than traditional optical components and can be mass-produced. The new holographic elements redirect light from a small image into a piece of glass, where it is confined until it reaches another holographic optical element that extracts light. The researchers say the extracted hologram then presents a viewable image with a larger eye box size than the original image. ... "

Discovery Analytics Center

One former Alama Mater of mine has a discovery analytics center.

The Discovery Analytics Center brings together computer scientists, engineers, and statisticians to meet the research and workforce needs of today’s data-driven society.

About DAC

The Discovery Analytics Center at Virginia Tech is at the forefront of scientific innovation, leading Tech’s efforts in “big data” research and education on campus. We offer deeply technical undergraduate and graduate programs in analytics, and our faculty conduct leading-edge research in visual and text-based data analytics, machine learning, and computational statistics.

DAC brings together researchers from computer science, statistics, mathematics, and electrical and computer engineering to tackle knowledge discovery problems in important areas of national interest, including intelligence analysis, sustainability, and public health.  Our work emphasizes not just the algorithmic aspects of converting data to knowledge but also the importance of human-in-the-loop analytics to arrive at insights.

DAC was established in 2011 and has locations in Blacksburg, Falls Church, and Arlington.  Our team is comprised of 15 academic faculty members, 8 research and professional faculty, 3 administrative staff members, and 75 PhD students.  We are supported by the Department of Computer Science, the College of Engineering, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) at Virginia Tech. .... " 

Google and Innovation

Well put short piece. 

The 5 Essential Ingredients of a Truly Innovative Team, According to Google
You can't force creativity, but you can create an environment that encourages it. Google has figured out how. ... 
 
By Jessica Stillman in Inc

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Alexa Assistants come to the Trading Floor

Another example where hands-free can be very useful, and you need information quickly.   Adding an information channel.

JPMorgan Brings Amazon’s Alexa to Wall Street Trading Floors
By Hugh Son and Katherine Chiglinsky  in Bloomberg Tech

Voice-activated assistant can now send reports from analysts

Other firms such as New York Life using it to help employees
“Alexa, ask JPMorgan what the price target for Apple is.”

It’s a request that JPMorgan Chase & Co. institutional clients can now get quickly answered through Amazon.com Inc.’s ubiquitous voice-activated assistant. The bank and the e-commerce giant have partnered to provide JPMorgan’s Wall Street users with another way to access its research. Alexa is able to send analysts’ reports and related queries, and the bank is testing other features, like providing prices on bonds or swaps, according to David Hudson, global head of markets execution for the New York-based bank.

Voice assistants are “clearly becoming something people are habituated to in their lives,” Hudson said. “It’s about taking information that’s somewhere in the bank, that someone has to generally go and look for, or which is time-consuming or requires authentication to get, and putting that to you in another channel.”  .... " 

Google Talks to Books

Google makes interesting use of their scanned books.  Could this also be used with other documents, say the knowledge of an enterprise?

Via Quartz:   (Many more good examples there)

Google’s astounding new search tool will answer any question by reading thousands of books

 " .... Imagine if you could gather thousands of writers in a circle to discuss one question. What would optimist Thomas L. Friedman say about intervening in Syria, for example?  Would chaos theorist Santo Banerjee concur?

Google now has a way to convene that kind of forum—in half a second. Speaking to TED curator Chris Anderson yesterday (April 13), legendary futurist Ray Kurzweil introduced “Talk to Books” a new way to find answers on the internet that should bring pleasure to researchers, bookworms and anyone seeking to expand their thinking on a range of topics.

Type a question into “Talk to Books,” and AI-powered tool will scan every sentence in 100,000 volumes in Google Books and generate a list of likely responses with the pertinent passage bolded. ... " 

 Google AI experiment has you talking to books  ...  in Engadget
The tech giant's other AI experiment is all about word association.

Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon in Engadget
5h ago in Internet  .... " 

Unintended Consequences of AI

Well put piece, we should be aware of the consequences of all forms of augmentation.  This one may be more hidden than most.

Tackling AI's Unintended Consequences     By Chris Brahm from Bain.

" ... How can companies address the loss of human expertise that accompanies the new freedom of artificial intelligence? Here are six risks for leaders to consider when making decisions on machine learning ... " 

"   .... As AI infiltrates more of our experiences and organizations, it’s important to recognize not only its many benefits but its unintended consequences as well. AI protects us from known and unknown threats, helps us connect to one another, and provides better answers faster and cheaper than humans do. And, of course, it’s great that AI frees us from routine tasks such as reading a map. But are we recognizing and addressing the loss of human expertise that accompanies that new freedom?

For business leaders and others investing in the technology, there are certain high-gain questions that can help them begin to grapple with leadership in the AI age—including how to manage the unique properties and risks of AI, bring clarity and focus to its deployment, and ultimately make better application of it (see Figure 1).  .... " 

Google Shopping Actions for Purchase

Was just asked to take a look at 'Shopping Actions' by a client.    Then saw this related piece on Retailwire.  Intriguing.   Connections to Google Home voice integration.   Indicates there might be a way to insert an assistant-style chat for product differentiation, engagment.  With further expert commentary.  Anything else out there?

Has Google found a formula for undercutting Amazon’s product search advantage?  by Tom Ryan in Retailwire

Google recently introduced Shopping Actions, a program that enables retailers to list products across Google Search, the Google Express shopping service and the Google Assistant app for smartphones and smart speakers like Google Home.

Mimicking the Amazon.com experience, shoppers browse and buy via a shareable list, universal shopping cart and instant checkout with saved payment credentials that work across Google.com and the Google Assistant.

“For example, shopper Kai can do a search on Google for moisturizing hand soap, see a sponsored listing for up & up brand soap from Target, and add it to a Google Express cart,” wrote Surojit Chatterjee, director of product management, Google Shopping, in a blog entry. “Later, in the kitchen, Kai can reorder foil through voice, add it to the same cart using Google Home, and purchase all items at once through a Google-hosted checkout flow.”  ...." 

Using Knowledge Studio

For the developer, a video showing how to use Knowledge Studio for a classic form of machine learning application.  Development-technical, but relatively straight forward example

Use Watson Knowledge Studio to build a custom machine learning model in the medical domain

About this webcast

One of the key benefits of building a machine learning annotator is the ability to train Watson in a complex domain such as medicine. Learn the methodology, standard practices, and guiderails on how to go about building an effective ML model. Steps include data understanding, type system building, pre-annotation, and deployment to WDS. After this session, you will have an acute understanding of what goes behind building an effective ML model. ... "

Alliance for Intelligence Driven Security

We connected with Recorded Future at an early stage.  Good to see their continued work.

Recorded Future Connect Xchange: Alliance for Intelligence-Driven Security

Integrations to Expand Impact of Traditional Security Operations, Incident Response, Security Orchestration and Automation, and Vulnerability Management Solutions With External Threat Intelligence

SAN FRANCISCO, April 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- RSA CONFERENCE – Recorded Future, the leading threat intelligence provider, today announced Recorded Future Connect Xchange, a global technology partner community designed with one goal in mind: help security teams by enhancing their deployed tools through rich threat intelligence from outside their organization.

Connect Xchange partners will work together to increase accessibility to threat intelligence, allowing security professionals to proactively map applicable threats to their organization, and add dynamic, real-time intelligence to traditionally static security functions. Inaugural partners include: Brinqa, Cofense (formerly known as PhishMe), DFLabs, DomainTools, EclecticIQ, Farsight Security, IBM QRadar, IBM Resilient, LogRhythm, Palo Alto Networks, ProtectWise, ReversingLabs, Tenable®, ThreatConnect, and Versive.  ....

"Determining a security strategy without applying the lens of threat intelligence is akin to gauging the difficulty and danger of a hike based on what you can see from the trailhead. You know it's a mountain and the plan is to get to the top, but you don't know what predators are native to the region, how challenging the trail is, and so on. Understanding what's happening outside your organization, and applying that intelligence to your existing security solutions, is the only way to stand a fighting chance against today's attackers." 

— Dr. Christopher Ahlberg, CEO and Co-Founder of Recorded Future. .... "  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Alibaba Developing Driverless

Expect even more of this where there is less regulation.

Alibaba is developing its own driverless cars in MIT Technology Review

The Chinese tech giant comes to the self-driving game later than rivals Baidu and Tencent, but says it will build an entire ecosystem around autonomous cars.

The news: Alibaba confirmed today that it’s testing its own self-driving vehicle technology. The effort is led by Gang Wang, a scientist at the company’s AI lab and one of MIT Technology Review's 35 Innovators Under 35 in 2017.  .... "

(Updated) Talk: Linking Analytics to Models of Process for Frictionless Transformation

Talk this week a favorite topic of mine. About linking analytics directly to operational and strategic models of process.  Analytics now also means the use of cognitive and embedded logical capabilities.  Known broadly now as AI.   Have had several talks with IBM on this topic, including the linking of business process modeling to assistant technologies.    Contact me if you have any thoughts.  I will report on the talk.

19 Apr 2018: 10:30 AM, ET  Access Instructions below.

Talk by: Chitra Dorai,  IBM Fellow, Vice President and CTO  
“The Real World of AI: Business Processes Reimagined End to End”

Talk slides and later the audio will be posted here when received.

Abstract: This talk will cover how enterprises are reimagining business processes with Al to bring about a frictionless  front office to back office transformation. Chitra will describe more than 30 cognitive solution use cases that we have  defined to change the way work is done today in Finance, HR and Procurement. I will discuss Al solutions deployment  experience, client case studies and business results that underscore how IBM is helping companies to embed Al in their  processes, and deliver end to end frictionless experiences and new outcomes 

Short bio: Dr. Chitra Dorai is an IBM Fellow and a Master Inventor, and is responsible for Cognitive Solutions and  Services in IBM's Global Business Services as its CTO. Dr. Dorai is a world renowned computer vision researcher and a  banking industry expert, and has received numerous awards and recognition both externally and at IBM for her  groundbreaking research and industry-transforming projects over the last twenty-seven years. 

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Cognitive Systems Institute Group Speaker Series Thursdays 10:30am US Eastern Time
Join the meetings by pointing your web browser to:  https://zoom.us/j/7371462221 ; Callin: (415) 762-9988 or (646) 568-7788 Meeting id 7371462221 ; International Numbers: https://zoom.us/zoomconference.

Join the CSIG LinkedIn Group to get reminders about talks and discuss them. Use twitter: #CSIGNews & #OpenTechAI
Replays before Dec 2015:  Dial 877.471.6587 or 402.970.2667 and enter the call’s Replay ID when prompted for a program ID number.   The Replay ID is listed in the Recording column of each date.

Bird Calls from Audubon

A bit of a bird enthusiast myself, found this interesting.  It is quite simple. You recite the name of a bird, and you get back something like:  'There are 6 calls for this bird', and you choose one and it is played for you.   The audio is very good.  So the architecture is a simple look up, and in general the voice query gets it right.  But there is not much background to support the lookup,  and in a perhaps typical use scenario, you have heard a bird,  or seen an unknown bird, and want to look it up,  its hard to apply. Now if I could record a bird or take a picture of one and use that to search?

Amazon’s Alexa Is Ready to Help You Learn Bird Calls
The virtual assistant can now access more than 2,000 birds sounds from the Audubon library—as long as you say the magic words.  ... "

RFID File Tracking

Fascinating application of RFID tagging.   Reminds me of some of the challenges we had designing a much less challenging operation in retail.  Considerable detail, non technical:

Largest RFID File-Tracking System Goes Live in Qatar

The new system in place at Qatar Public Prosecution replaces an existing RFID solution to provide greater coverage with fewer readers, and to offer fast data capture, storage of data if a network goes down and real-time alerts in the event of unauthorized case file removals. .... 

By Claire Swedberg in RFID Journal

Common Sense - Project Alexandria

See my tag links below on our past looks at common sense based reasoning. Ultimately essential to get us to machine intelligence. 

Paul Allen Wants to Teach Machines Common Sense

Project Alexandria   By Cade Metz in The New York Times

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen on Wednesday announced he would pour another $125 million into the non-profit Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence to fund a project to teach computers common sense. He notes the additional funding should help to underwrite existing research as well as the common sense initiative, called Project Alexandria. Artificial intelligence (AI) "recognizes objects, but can't explain what it sees," says Allen Institute CEO Oren Etzioni. "It can't read a textbook and understand the questions in the back of the book." The Allen Institute wants to compile a database of fundamental knowledge that humans take for granted but which machines have always lacked, which will be fed into efforts such as Project Alexandria. "To make real progress in AI, we have to overcome the big challenges in the area of common sense,” Allen contends. .... 

Common sense is the everyday knowledge   that virtually every person has but no machine does.

More on AI2:

AI2 was founded in 2014 with the singular focus of conducting high-impact research and engineering in the field of artificial intelligence, all for the common good. AI2 is the creation of Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder, and is led by Dr. Oren Etzioni, a world-renowned researcher and professor in the field of AI and computer science.

Situated on the shores of Lake Union, AI2 employs over 60 of the world’s best scientific talent in the field of AI, attracting individuals of varied interests and backgrounds from across the globe. AI2 prides itself on the diversity and collaboration of its team, and takes a results-oriented approach to complex challenges in AI.

AI2 has undertaken four main projects, Aristo, Semantic Scholar, Euclid and Plato to drive fundamental advances in science and medicine through AI. Meet our team, review our projects, and see our advisors and collaborators.

Based on these project efforts:

Alexandria,  Common Sense Knowledge and Reasoning
Aristo, Machine Reading and Reasoning
Semantic Scholar, AI-Based Search
Euclid, Natural Language Understanding
Plato, Computer Vision
AllenNLP,  Deep Semantic NLP Platform
Incubator,   Launching AI Powered Startups

Global Identity via the Blockchain

The idea of using blockchain for identity seems to be the clearest example of its use.  Had not seen Sovrin before, worth a look.

Via Sovrin, IBM supports user-centric global identity on blockchain

By James Kobelius in SiliconAngle

User-centric global identity is a dream that won’t die. What it refers to is a universal environment in which people can exchange self-issued digital credentials and rely on their legitimacy without the need for trusted third parties to vouch for and validate them.

This vision is a holy grail for libertarians and privacy advocates because it avoids third parties that might misuse, abuse or lose user identity information along the lines of Facebook Inc.’s recent Cambridge Analytica fiasco. In the early years of this millennium, Kim Cameron, who later joined Microsoft Corp., referred to the enabling architecture as an “identity metasystem” that is global, distributed and universally trusted. ... "

Knitting in 3D

Beyond the usual 3D approach.

Software Automatically Generates Knitting Instructions for 3D Shapes
Carnegie Mellon University
Byron Spice

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed a system that can translate various three-dimensional (3D) shapes into stitch-by-stitch instructions executed by a computer-controlled knitting machine, and have used it to produce plush toys and garments. CMU professor James McCann envisions this milestone perhaps leading to on-demand machine knitting. His team's algorithm takes the knitting machines' limitations into account, generating instructions for patterns that work within these constraints and lower the risk of yarn breaks or jams. McCann notes additional work is needed to expand the system's capabilities beyond producing only smooth knitted cloth, which lacks the patterned stitching that can make knitted garments distinctive. "The software...needs a little push," McCann says, "and software can improve rapidly because we can iterate so much faster." The work will be presented in August at the ACM Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH 2018) in Vancouver, Canada. ...