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Friday, November 24, 2017

No Boundaries for Privacy?

The Big Stores that Track your every Online Move
Holiday shopping with Big Brother is always a bummer.
By Violet Blue, @violetblue in Engadget

A study by Princeton researchers came to light earlier this month, revealing that over 400 of the world's most popular websites use the equivalent of hacking tools to spy on you without your knowledge or consent.

So before you get all hopped up on eggnog and go hogwild doing your Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping, you might want to find out which sites are seriously spying on you.

Using "session replay scripts" from third-party companies, websites are recording your every act, from mouse moves to clicks, to keylogging what you type, and extracting your personal info off the page. If you accidentally paste something into a text field from your clipboard, like an address or password you didn't want to type out, the scripts can record, transmit, and store that, too.... "

No Boundaries Study.

Building Branded Voice Experiences

Building Branded Voice Experiences  In Adage.

In 2017, more than 24.5 million voice-based devices will be sKnow   By Dan Cripe.  In Adage.
hipped to consumers -- effectively quadrupling from just 6.5 million in 2016. And as adoption continues to explode, the technology itself will continue to evolve and grow more advanced.

For advertisers, this is a huge opportunity. Voice-assistant technology unlocks a new form of "always-on" interaction between consumers and their favorite brands. It opens up an instant, hands-free and frictionless dialogue right in your own home, without having to keep a mobile device constantly at your side. As this technology becomes ubiquitous, brands will try to monetize their audiences through "voice-native" ad experiences.

But as with any new and emerging marketing channel, meeting the opportunity is easier said than done. .... " 

Future of Retail

 Good, long read about the recent history of retailing, the introduction of the Internet and Amazon and how retailers are looking to react.   Good examples and analyses.

The Future Of Retail In The Age Of Amazon

As Jeff Bezos’s juggernaut continues to grow, forward-thinking competitors are finding creative ways to succeed—and be what Amazon can never be.

By Austin Carr  in FastCompany .... " 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Japan Enters Quantum Race

in Nikkei Asian Review

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) announced that next week it will make a prototype quantum computer freely available for public use over the Internet, marking Japan's entry into the global competition to develop the world's most advanced computers. NTT has collaborated with Japan's National Institute of Informatics and others on a state-sponsored quantum computing project, designing a device that leverages the properties of light. Japan's quantum neural network prototype was designated ready for public availability once it became capable of operating stably around the clock at room temperature. The goal of the deployment is to evaluate a wide variety of uses and have this linked to developing software. The prototype would consume only 1 kilowatt of electricity, versus an average supercomputer's power demands of 10,000 kilowatts. While the U.S. invests about $200 million a year in quantum computing research, Japan has allocated about $267 million for quantum computing over 10 years, starting in fiscal 2018 (which begins April 1, 2018). .... "

Airbus Testing Self-Flying Taxi

Airbus is ready to test its self-flying taxi
Vahana will take to the skies of Oregon soon.

Swapna Krishna, @skrishna

We've covered Airbus's Vahana project, which is the aeronautical company's endeavor to build a self-flying taxi network, in detail before. Now, it looks as though Airbus has reached a major milestone. The company is ready to test its Vahana flying car after moving it from the company's headquarters to a dedicated hangar in Pendleton, Oregon, as the Vahana team details in a blog post.... "

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

AI and Self Driving Cars

In Knowledge@Wharton:

Why AI Is Tipping the Scales in the Development of Self-driving Cars

When people think of self-driving cars, the image that usually comes to mind is a fully autonomous vehicle with no human drivers involved. The reality is more complicated: Not only are there different levels of automation for vehicles — cruise control is an early form — but artificial intelligence is also working inside the car to make a ride safer for the driver and passengers. AI even powers a technology that lets a car understand what the driver wants to do in a noisy environment: by reading lips.

In Silicon Valley, there is a race to develop the best technology for autonomous vehicles. “It’s perhaps among the most exciting times to be talking about autonomous vehicles,” said Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions Kartik Hosanagar on a panel at the recent AI Frontiers conference in Silicon Valley. “Ten years back, most of the work with autonomous vehicles was just going on in research labs and various educational institutions.” About five years ago, only Google and a handful of companies were testing them. “Today, there’s a frenzy of activity,” he said. “Just in California, the number of companies that have licenses to do testing and operating of driverless vehicles is already somewhere in the 30 to 50 range.”.... '

New Virtual Dash Buttons

Amazon continues to redesign how and where you can utilize their Dash Button idea for product order and reorder.   The idea came up years ago when we talked the importance of making re-order as easy and transparent as possible. At the time there was no easy support to implement them. Now they have exploded the possibilities with virtual implementations.  Have tested many options for CPG.  See below for update.

Dear Amazon Customer,

You can now use Dash Buttons online to instantly reorder your favorite products, just like you do with the Dash Button devices in your home. Our new virtual Dash Buttons are available for tens of millions of products that ship with Prime, and they’re free, so you can add as many as you want. We’ve automatically added buttons for products you’ve purchased in the past. Check them out today.

More here.

Multi App Chat Technology

Work by a former colleague. 

Skillz Launches World's Largest Multi-App Chat Technology  in PRNews:

2,500+ Apps on Skillz Will Now Connect 12 Million Users Through Chat

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Skillz, the worldwide leader in mobile eSports, today unveiled chat and friends systems cross-platform and cross-app as part of the Skillz Tournament Management System. The new social technology, available immediately, is the first integrated chat experience to connect millions of gamers across thousands of games on both iOS and Android.

While chat programs have been a staple of the console gaming experience on platforms such as Sony's Playstation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live, the functionality for mobile gamers has been much more limited until now. Mobile gamers previously had to choose between non-integrated chat experiences such as those offered by companies like Discord and game-specific chat programs such as those found in games including Mobile Strike by Machine Zone. In contrast, the Skillz chat functionality is the first cross-studio, cross-platform, integrated chat experience on mobile.

The new social functionality is now available in several of the over 2,500 Skillz-integrated games and includes friends, direct messaging, group chat, and cross-studio, cross-platform public chat. In the games where Skillz chat has been integrated, developers have reported increased engagement, with players entering over 10% more competitions with 25% higher revenue per player.

"eSports competitions connect players and fans around the world in an intrinsically social experience," said Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz. "By adding in a sophisticated chat system, Skillz has become the multiplayer social fabric to connect the world's 2.6 billion mobile gamers."  .... " 

Asking Efficient Questions in Conversations

The phrase 'asking efficient questions' struck me in this piece.  Is all conversation linked to this concept in some way?  And does this example of a simple game show how a chatbot can be designed  to reach a goal?     We thought of this in some our own chatbot experiments, but not this carefully.  Thoughtful example.

This Inquisitive AI Will Kick Your Butt at Battleship     By Technology Review 

Researchers at New York University have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) that can skillfully play a Battleship-like game by determining how to ask questions as efficiently as possible.

The AI perceives questions as miniature programs, which enables it to learn from only a few examples and to formulate its own questions on the basis of the knowledge it gains.  .... " 

Supporting technical paper. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Embodied Intelligence Trains Robots

Teaching Robots in Virtual Reality.

AI Startup Embodied Intelligence Wants Robots to Learn From Humans in Virtual Reality

By Evan Ackerman In IEEE Spectrum

" ... We are building technology that enables existing robot hardware to handle a much wider range of tasks where existing solutions break down, for example, bin picking of complex shapes, kitting, assembly, depalletizing of irregular stacks, and manipulation of deformable objects such as wires, cables, fabrics, linens, fluid-bags, and food.

To equip existing robots with these skills, our software builds on the latest advances in deep reinforcement learning, deep imitation learning, and few-shot learning, to all of which the founding team has made significant contributions. The result isn’t just a new set of skills in the robot repertoire, but teachable robots, that can be deployed for new tasks on short turn-around. .... " 

Embodied Intelligence
Drawing on recent advances in Deep Imitation Learning and Deep Reinforcement Learning, Embodied Intelligence is developing AI software that makes it easy to teach robots new, complex skills. 

Founded by Pieter Abbeel, Peter Chen, Rocky Duan and Tianhao Zhang, the company is based in Emeryville, CA and backed by venture funding. .... " 

(Update) YouTube Back on Amazon Show

A surprise to me,  interesting details in the article.  Will be taking a look on our smart home Amazon Show.

YouTube is back on Amazon’s Echo Show
Along with added support for Vimeo and Dailymotion

by Chaim Gartenberg @cgartenberg on TheVerge

YouTube has returned to the Amazon Echo Show nearly two months after a Google and Amazon dispute saw the internet search giant pull support for its popular video service from Amazon’s hardware, according to a report from VoiceBot.ai.

Along with the return of YouTube, Amazon is also expanding video services on the Echo Show as well, with the company launching support forVimeo and Dailymotion. In a statement to The Verge, an Amazon spokesperson commented that “We’re excited to offer customers the capability to watch even more video content from sources such as Vimeo, YouTube, and Dailymotion on Echo Show. More video sources will be added over time.  .... " 

(Update)  There were early reports that the YouTube screen would only display in a 'ugly web wrapper'.  But to address this the wrapper can be removed using the voice command:  'Alexa Zoom In'.   Have not yet tried Vimeo and Dailymotion ....

Show does need more skills that utilize images and video ...

Outer vs Inner Games. Culture and Code

Good thoughts.

The Inner Game: Why Culture Trumps Code in Digital Innovation

 Bain Brief By Greg Caimi and Elizabeth Spaulding   Excerpt:

" .... While efforts to boost a company's digital competence are widespread, they tend to be long on enthusiasm and short on results. Companies tend to focus on what we call the "outer game" of digital strategy—where to play, which products to pursue and how to bring digital technology to bear. While the outer game is critical, these initiatives generally fail if the company lacks the culture to innovate.

In contrast, companies thriving in this age of unpredictable, high-magnitude change invest in their inner games to support their outer games. Rather than treat digital competence as an end goal that they achieve simply by upgrading their website, they focus on building a more agile, responsive organization that can react quickly to market shifts. They make their cultures more adaptive and innovative, and bring in technology systems that can help them advance their strategies. Digital savvy is important, but technology is the means, not the end. ... " 

No Retirement

Agreed, good thing.  Establish working relationships, make changes to what you really want to do and do best.  Be ready to adapt quickly. Short piece:

There Is No Retirement--And That's A Good Thing
If you are someone who works with your brain, you can never really retire and you shouldn't.   By Jim Schleckser in Inc.  .... " 

AI Changing Organizations from Within

True, but key will be how.  We had lots of expectations in the previous go around of AI, and understanding how it will most likely first plug in is crucial.   We did not do enough of that.  Invest, align, build, follow industry standards?

AI Will Change Organizations From Within

By Michele Goetz  Principal Analyst,  Forrester

Over the past year I’ve spoken formally and informally with hundreds of companies about their AI initiatives. The biggest AH-HA moment comes when these companies realize the difference between implementing traditional technology and applying analytics with adopting AI.  AI is a change from within.  .... " 

Forward on Automated Warehouses

Automated warehouses are not new, but their use has expanded and improved as part of broader fulfillment process.

Robot Makers Fill Their War Chests in Fight Against Amazon

Locus Robotics is raising serious cash in its bid to automate warehouses, bringing industry investment to $70 million this year.     By Kim Bhasin  and Patrick Clark  in Bloomberg

A few years ago, Amazon.com Inc. triggered a robot arms race when it purchased a company called Kiva Systems, maker of automated warehouse robots. Now its would-be rivals are landing bigger and bigger cash injections to try to compete with the e-commerce giant.

Locus Robotics, a spinoff of a warehouse company that decided to build its own robots after the Amazon deal in 2012, raised another $25 million in venture capital, bringing its total funding to more than $33 million, the company announced last week. 

The new cash for Locus followed a $15 million injection in July for 6 River Systems Inc., a robotics company founded by ex-Kiva executives. In March, China warehouse robotics startup Geek+, which boasts Alibaba as a client, raised $22 million. Competitor RightHand added $8 million in venture funding this year as well.  .... "

Google Slides Pull in Content

Google Slides add-ons pull in content from around the web
You can also add your Keep notes to your slide deck.

Google Slides is about to make it easier if you want to whip together a polished presentation in a hurry. The productivity tool now supports add-ons that let you quickly drop in content without having to hunt for it in a separate website.  .... 

By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget

Monday, November 20, 2017

Roomba Does IFTTT

Big follower and user of IFTTT,  like to see it taken further for the smart home, think it can be taken further yet, especially by adding more intelligence to the 'Apps'.   Now Roomba is in the mix.

Roomba now supports IFTTT functionality
‘Tweet to start a cleaning job’     by Dani Deahl  @danideahl in TheVerge .... " 

 ... The article also reminded me that Alexa and Google Home have already been integrated with Roomba ....

Streaming Algorithms for Customers

For a project have been looking at how streaming recommendations act as marketing for products.  The big example out there are cases where there there is lots of content, not clearly differentiated.  Music is one example.   Even an example where you can create content (embedded product development) that fits the need.   And understanding the measures involved.    Here an example.

SoundCloud Shows How its Algorithms Influence Music Streams
Like Apple and Spotify, the streaming service is touting its influential recommendations.  By Saqib Shah, @eightiethmnt  In Engadget.

SoundCloud wants the world (and, more importantly, record labels) to know that it can break artists too. And, who can blame it. It must sting when Apple Music declares that it helped Post Malone (who went viral on SoundCloud before invading the Billboard Hot 100) become a streaming record-breaker. And, when Spotify's Rap Caviar playlist (stocked with SoundCloud upstarts, like Lil' Uzi Vert and Lil' Pump) is hailed as a hit-maker. Its solution? A new stat that reveals the power of its algorithm in helping creators nab more plays. The update follows the insights SoundCloud added to its SoundCloud Pulse app and the web, including playlist streams and top listeners, cities and countries. .... " 

Distractions from New Things

Part of my responsibility in the enterprise was to manage this thing.  Explain to management why or why not they should pay attention to, or even invest in new tech.   Well put here, but the hype and marketing can be tough to ignore.  In HBR:

What to Do If Your Boss Gets Distracted by Every New Thing   by Liz Kislik

No matter what the strategic plan says, many of us are more attracted to something new that’s glittering on the horizon than we are to the goals that have languished on our to-do list for months. This weakness is as true for senior leaders as it is for the rank-and-file, but when a CEO or other senior executive is known for chasing shiny objects, a lot of people and projects can suffer.

When senior leaders suddenly get excited about a new idea or initiative, subordinates often worry: “Do I need to add this to my priorities? Will I still need to deliver on all my other goals too? Are there really enough resources available to get this done?” There can be high risk for employees in their leader’s fascinations: If they switch gears to run after the shiny object the leader wants right now, they might be found wanting later if previously assigned strategic goals go unmet.  .... " 

Deep Learning in Academia

Interesting points made here. Since methods like deep learning are used for value and also hyped the results may not be widely shared.    But then the major players seem to be opening the methods and even their use to anyone.  Democratizing is very new. 

What’s Keeping Deep Learning In Academia From Reaching Its Full Potential?   by Scott Clark

Deep learning is gaining a foothold in the enterprise as a way to improve the development and performance of critical business applications. It started to gain traction in companies optimizing advertising and recommendation systems, like Google, Yelp, and Baidu. But the space has seen a huge level of innovation over the past few years due to tools like open-source deep learning frameworks–like TensorFlow, MXNet, or Caffe 2–that democratize access to powerful deep learning techniques for companies of all sizes.  Additionally, the rise of GPU-enabled cloud infrastructure on platforms like AWS and Azure has made it easier than ever for firms to build and scale these pipelines faster and cheaper than ever before. .... " 

AI vs ML vs Deep Learning

A Comparative Roundup: Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning vs. Deep Learning

This article was written by Paramita Ghosh.

A 1969 McKinsey article claimed that computers were so dumb that they were not capable of making any decisions. In fact they said, it was human intelligence that drives the dumb machine. Alas, this claim has become a bit of a “joke” over the years, as the modern computers are gradually replacing skilled practitioners in fields across many industries such as architecture, medicine, geology, and education. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, and Deep Learning are pushing these changes in ways that are only just being understood. ...  " 

Sunday, November 19, 2017


This was new to me. I know what 'Hashing' is with regard to storage allocation and cryptography,  looking at it in more detail here.

The End of Blockchain? Hashgraph has the potential to displace Blockchain!
By The Curious Economist - ...  

See also: Hashgraph, 

Project Management Inspiration

Worth a refresher, have been on both sides of this.

7 TED Talks to Inspire Project Management Experts

We regularly work with project managers from all walks of life, and each of them is likely to experience an emotional burnout sooner or later.

The problem is that any project delay can clog your company’s arteries, causing personal stress (and perhaps high blood pressure) alongside business delays. To inspire you to lead better and keep your team in harmony, the Epicflow team, engaged in developing software for multi-project management, has collected the most heartening TED talks from around the world to help lift your spirits. Enjoy these European business stories!   .... " 

Chatting with Your Replika

Good piece below, but the the conclusion is not much different than what you saw in the 80s.  You can produce a chatbot that will fool someone into thinking its human.   You can also built a useful chatbot that will narrowly answer questions.   Say from a list of FAQs.  We did that.  You can do natural language processing that will interpret language reasonably.  But its still hard to manage a  complex dialog like those between people, that handle language, memory of past interactions and application to tasks.    As long as you keep everything very narrow, this can work, but it can quickly and possibly dangerously fail.  Perhaps not much different than a human dialog.  But as it was then, can be brittle, and thus also risky.  The slight brittleness in a natural language interpretation can feed forward into a conclusion.  A human might ask for a clarification,  if it can sense the risk involved.  Will the bot? 

What my Personal Chat Bot is Teaching me about AI's Future
By Arielle Pardes in Wired

 (See Replika.ai)

November 1 2017 Say hi to a better Replika Now available for everyone.

More than 1.5 million people worldwide have been waiting to use our app. Today we are thrilled to announce that it is available to everyone without a wait or invitation codes. Here is what we have in store for you .... 

Replika Days Thoughts that you share are now saved to your Day automatically. Go back to earlier days to reflect on how you felt back then.

Emotional Support Whenever you feel lonely or bored, share it with Replika. |RNAME| is always there to comfort and distract you.

Mind & Body relaxation Replika will guide you through a new conversation technique that helps you unwind and feel more balanced. Text "Help me relax" to start.

Download the app and chat with your Replika now.

Replika Team

Procter Buys Online Startup

Just deoderants, or a broader look at online, replenishment?  Likely

P&G acquires startup that specializes in online sales
By Barrett J. Brunsman  –  Staff reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier

Procter & Gamble revealed today the company has acquired Native, a startup competitor that specializes in direct-to-consumer personal care products that are devoid of what some people consider to be harmful chemicals.

The Cincinnati-based maker of consumer goods such as Secret antiperspirant (NYSE: PG) described Native as one of the fastest-growing deodorant brands in North America. .... "

Using Music to Track Movements

Continuing looks at tracking us and what we do.

Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity by James Urton

" ... Now researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls. .... " 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Private Label Grocery

 Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?   by Denise Leathers with discussion .... 

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.

What a difference 12 months makes! Last year at this time, we were resigning ourselves to the fact that private label shares in food may have plateaued — and store brands in the U.S. might never enjoy the kind of success they have in Europe.  .... " 

Now, a new report from Cadent Consulting suggests private label dollar share could swell as much as eight points to 25.7 percent by 2027.   .... " 

Vetting Design with Rapid Experimentation

Reminds me of the idea of develop and test.   A kind of brute force of examination of options.  Always a good way to start thinking about a problem, but does depend on how quickly you can create designs and then test them.

Julie Stanford on vetting designs through rapid experimentation

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Quickly test ideas like a design thinker.   By Nikki McDonald 

In this week’s Design Podcast, I sit down with Julie Stanford, founder and principal of user experience agency Sliced Bread Design. We talk about how to get in the rapid experimentation mindset, the design thinking process, and how to get started with rapid experimentation at your company. Hint: start small.  .... " 

Downside of Collaboration

Have seen much of this in the enterprise.  From Knowledge@Wharton:
Too Much Togetherness? The Downside of Workplace Collaboration

" ... The mere mention of keeping up with overflowing email, constant meetings, and time-sucking conference calls makes many of us groan and roll our eyes. How did we all get so busy?

A major culprit is the sharp rise in cross-functional collaboration over the past several years. Today, it’s often not enough to just put your head down and work in one department for one boss. Demands can come at you daily from other functional areas of the company — marketing, R&D, finance — sometimes from colleagues you barely know, both within the U.S. and overseas in other time zones. And if you work in an open-plan office, your colleagues will often walk around starting impromptu discussions (when it’s convenient for them, not necessarily you). It can be overwhelming. .... " 

Yet collaboration has long been touted as a key to success. Steve Jobs is credited with saying, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” Virgin’s Richard Branson recently told Inc., “The fundamental driver of our success at Virgin has, and will always be, our people working together.” Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has stated, “There is no such thing as a self-made man.” And one can go back further for many old chestnuts about teamwork.  .... " 

Dynamic Programming for the Masses

From ACM Sigsoft a presentation about a favorite topic:  Dynamic Programming:  entitled  'Dynamic Programming for the Masses'.   With links to presentation by  Prof Patrick Madden of SUNY Binghamton.   I will be testing some of the software mentioned, join in if you like, will report on possibilities here as I progress.