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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Amazon, Microsoft and Healthcare

Will it be head to head or collaborative?  Microsoft  has already said they were collaborating with Alexa systems in their recent meeting.  Future health systems may need to do more listening than speaking.    More below:

Amazon may be going head-to-head with Microsoft in healthcare
Amazon isn't the only one of the big cloud vendors looking to expand its healthcare footprint. Microsoft's been there, done that, and is continuing to invest in the space.....   

 By Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft

Intelligent Workflow Drones

Logical, first I had seen this stated this way. But then anything that does work to perform useful tasks or gather data should ideally be integrated into a workflow. Formally or informally.

Intelligent Workflow Drones  by Biren Gandhi   in Cisco Blog

Commercial drones are moving from a novelty item to an indispensable business tool, with PwC pegging the potential opportunity size at $127B in its report, “Clarity from Above”. However, there is a key element that is needed before drones can be successful in enterprise applications: they must be integrated into regular workflow systems, instead of existing in their own silos.

It’s like saying “let’s talk” instead of “let’s talk over a telephone” in the world of voice communication.

An example of this is showcased below. A few months ago, Cisco’s Enterprise Routing and Mobility team partnered with FlytBase and AeroTestra to showcase end-to-end enterprise workflows involving fleets of drones. Cisco’s Spark, WebEx and Drone ASAP products were integrated with Built.io’s Digital Transformation Platform to create this unique solution .... "

Algorithms teaching Algorithms

The ultimate AI play has devices teaching each other in context.

AI Algorithms Are Starting to Teach AI Algorithms

Automating machine learning will make the technology more accessible to non–AI experts.   by Will Knight,  Technology Review

At first blush, Scot Barton might not seem like an AI pioneer. He isn’t building self-driving cars or teaching computers to thrash humans at computer games. But within his role at Farmers Insurance, he is blazing a trail for the technology.

Barton leads a team that analyzes data to answer questions about customer behavior and the design of different policies. His group is now using all sorts of cutting-edge machine-learning techniques, from deep neural networks to decision trees. But Barton did not hire an army of AI wizards to make this possible. His team uses a platform called DataRobot, which automates a lot of difficult work involved in applying such techniques. ... " 

Garmin Speak Adds Alexa Option

Garmin Speak puts Amazon Alexa in your car,  It's now available for $150.   By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon

Gamin's GPS devices already feature voice control, but if you'd prefer to have Alexa onboard, its latest product is more your jam. The GPS device maker has just released Garmin Speak, which it says is the first in-vehicle device with hands-free access to Alexa. It's a tiny little thing, measuring just around an inch-a-half with a LED light ring and an OLED display that shows turn-by-turn directions. You can talk to the voice assistant through it the same way you'd talk to Alexa through an Echo: just say "Alexa" and follow it up with a voice command. ... "

Report from the Smart Kitchen Summit

Used to attend these kinds of meetings,  to feed our own innovation center experiments, always had to separate the reasonable from the outlandish.  In say a decade long frame.  I am a cook from way back so I do appreciate what is useful and is not.  Even for volume or time stressed situations.   Good piece, with useful links, note the considerable number of Alexa enabled appliances, but how to make voice control a generally useful capability will be a creativity challenge.

Your Future Kitchen has a Smart Oven, a Burger flipping bot, and 36 Bacon Programs   By Jenny McGrath from DigitalTrend.

Last year, we predicted some of the changes that we’d see in cooking over the next decade, including precision cookware. The Smart Kitchen Summit, which was held this week in Seattle, brings together device makers, chefs, and other experts to discuss the future of food. And based on some of the items that were featured at the annual event, we may be able to get precisely cooked, hyper personalized dishes from our ovens sooner than we thought.

Major appliance brands such as Kenmore and Whirlpool are on board with embracing the smart kitchen. Both announced Alexa-enabled appliances, including fridges, dishwashers, and ranges earlier this year. There aren’t a ton of ways for Alexa and these appliances to interact yet, but manufacturers see including smart technology as a way to continuously add new features to old machines. But even people who swear they’ll never talk to their oven will see a benefit.... "

Monday, October 16, 2017

Put Humans at the Center of AI

Worked with the Stanford AI lab, and a number of the startups and students that came out of it.

Put Humans at the Center of AI  in Technology Review

At Stanford and Google, Fei-Fei Li is leading the development of artificial intelligence—and working to diversify the field.     by Will Knight  

As the director of Stanford’s AI Lab and now as a chief scientist of Google Cloud, Fei-Fei Li is helping to spur the AI revolution. But it’s a revolution that needs to include more people. She spoke with MIT Technology Review senior editor Will Knight about why everyone benefits if we emphasize the human side of the technology.

Why did you join Google?

Researching cutting-edge AI is very satisfying and rewarding, but we’re seeing this great awakening, a great moment in history. For me it’s very important to think about AI’s impact in the world, and one of the most important missions is to democratize this technology. The cloud is this gigantic computing vehicle that delivers computing services to every single industry.

What have you learned so far?

We need to be much more human-centered. If you look at where we are in AI, I would say it’s the great triumph of pattern recognition. It is very task-focused, it lacks contextual awareness, and it lacks the kind of flexible learning that humans have. We also want to make technology that makes humans’ lives better, our world safer, our lives more productive and better. All this requires a layer of human-level communication and collaboration.

How can we make AI more human-centered?

There’s a great phrase, written in the ’70s: “the definition of today’s AI is a machine that can make a perfect chess move while the room is on fire.” It really speaks to the limitations of AI. In the next wave of AI research, if we want to make more helpful and useful machines, we’ve got to bring back the contextual understanding. We’ve got to bring knowledge abstraction and reasoning. These are all the most important steps. .... " 

Google Improves, Automates Pet Tagging

We were involved in work that sought to autotag pictures of people and pets in still images and video.  So this is quite a step forward.  Not too long ago this was not achievable.   Some details at the link below. 

Meow it’s even easier to find your furry friends in Google Photos
By Lily Kharevych,  Software Engineer, Google Photos

If you have a bunch of photos of your furry friends, you now have the oppawtunity to see them all in one place in Google Photos.

When you want to look back on old photos of Oliver as a puppy or Mr. Whiskers as a kitten, you no longer need to type “dog” or “cat” into search in Google Photos. Rolling out in most countries today, you’ll be able to see photos of the cats and dogs now grouped alongside people, and you can label them by name, search to quickly find photos of them, or even better, photos of you and them. This makes it even easier to create albums, movies, or even a photo book of your pet.   .... " 

Facebook Releases Video Neural Training Data

More generally available training data for Deep Learning systems.

Facebook debuts new video datasets for training neural networks  by Maria Deutscher

 Facebook Inc. unveiled its latest contribution to the artificial intelligence ecosystem at the GitHub Universe conference on Thursday.

Researchers from the social network have put together two datasets designed to help with creation of machine learning models that process video content. Typically, the information used in AI projects doesn’t receive as much attention as the sophisticated technologies that underpin the development process. But it’s an equally important component that in many cases can be harder to obtain .... " 

Seeking Voice Assistants in the Workplace

Now been involved in a number of brainstorm meetings addressing now virtual assistants can be used in the workplace.  Especially how voice can be used without disrupting a typical workplace.    Makes sense to use these for mundane topics.   Handsfree and non disruptive.   Probably with chatbot like feedback on alternatives.   Contact to talk this with me.  Here the first general example I have seen suggested:

In ComputerWeekly:
" ... Within the next three years, workers will be using Alexa-style devices to book time off, update their addresses, and file their expenses.

Voice recognition, powered by intelligent software bots, will take off as companies look to make their IT systems easier for employees to use, according to a specialist on the future of work. ... " 

Next Gen Personalization

Good piece shows the breadth of tech being used to personalize.

Shop.org Takeaway: Three steps to next-gen personalization
 By Deena M.Amato-McCoy in ChainStoreage.

Consumers are becoming more digitally influenced on a seemingly daily basis — but omnichannel retailers find themselves hard-pressed to keep up the pace. Retailers need to meet their needs across all touchpoints, and create a frictionless shopping experience despite where the shopping journey starts and ends.

To achieve this goal, successful retailers are adopting a new digital tools that allow them to “connect the dots,” and personally engage shoppers before, during and following the shopping experience. Industry observers discussed this new level of personalization during Shop.org, held in Los Angeles, Sept. 25-28.

Among the top solutions are:

Voice: Conversational commerce is shaping up to be one of the year’s hottest disruptors, and momentum continues to grow. As customers grow more comfortable using digital voice assistants found on devices like Amazon Echo and Dot, Google Home, and others, retailers have a new way to personalize the shopping experience, and remove some of the friction that still occurs via online and mobile transactions.

Jet.com Walmart’s e-commerce arm, is so bullish on voice that it is one of the company’s “top priorities this year,” Marc Lore, president and CEO, of Walmart e-commerce U.S., said at shop.org.

“You have to look beyond the technology and toward what it enables,” Lore added. “It’s more than a tool that helps customers order product for delivery. It gives us the chance to connect with shoppers one-on-one. And we can use data to become better merchandisers.”

Artificial intelligence: Retailers that use AI are essentially adopting programs that teach their computers to learn patterns. Then brands can use results to deliver better customer experiences.

AI is playing a critical role across Disney’s retail channels. Committed to delivering “a more immersive, personalized, and robust omnichannel experience than ever before, “Disney is adding AI to our e-commerce site so we can help improve the guest experience online and in-store,” said Mike White, senior VP and chief technology officer for Disney consumer products and interactive media.

AI is helping Disney understand its best-selling category SKUs searched online, and then using this data to evaluate customer affinities. “Then we can expand online and in-store assortments, which add more value to their experiences,” he added.  .... "

Brain Machine Interface

The idea has been around for years, now approaching reality.  In Wired: 

 " .... 2017 has been a coming-out year for the Brain-Machine Interface (BMI), a technology that attempts to channel the mysterious contents of the two-and-a-half-pound glop inside our skulls to the machines that are increasingly central to our existence. The idea has been popped out of science fiction and into venture capital circles faster than the speed of a signal moving through a neuron. Facebook, Elon Musk, and other richly funded contenders, such as former Braintree founder Bryan Johnson, have talked seriously about silicon implants that would not only merge us with our computers, but also supercharge our intelligence. But CTRL-Labs, which comes with both tech bona fides and an all-star neuroscience advisory board, bypasses the incredibly complicated tangle of connections inside the cranium and dispenses with the necessity of breaking the skin or the skull to insert a chip—the Big Ask of BMI. Instead, the company is concentrating on the rich set of signals controlling movement that travel through the spinal column, which is the nervous system’s low-hanging fruit. .... " 

Blockchain and the Energy Grid

How Blockchain Could Give Us a Smarter Energy Grid

Energy experts believe that blockchain technology can solve a maze of red tape and data management problems. .... " 

by Mike Orcutt  in Technology Review

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Time Measurement Productivity Tools

Had not heard of many of these tools.  Rarely is time measured this carefully.

8 Productivity Tools Illustrate You Have Way More Time Than You Think

The scarcity of time is an illusion that most entrepreneurs struggle to overcome. The first step is to measure what you (and your team) do day in and day out. What gets measured gets managed.

By Bill Carmody, Founder and CEO, Trepoint  @BillCarmody  in Inc.

Ad Tech Emerging for Tactical Decisions

When I first joined the enterprise we constructed some near autonomous systems to analyze, select and insert ads optimally.    If anything today, we have much better data to drive such systems.  Is this the near future?  Where we wont need tactical decision making, but only strategic?

This in Ad Age, may require some registration to read. The Tenuous Future of Ad Tech Middle Men

Russian Voice Assistant

Russian Voice Assistant Alice Sounds as Natural as Developer Yandex Claims   By Brenda Stolyar in Digital Trend

It’s sometimes tough to remember the days when we didn’t have the convenience of a voice assistant. Whether it’s through your smartphone or a home device, it’s as though a new one is popping up everyday. In the U.S., this type of technology is always available for us in the English language, while that’s not always the case for other countries. This week, we have an international app that takes the concept of voice assistants and create its own.

Yandex — available for iOS and Android — is particularly known as a Russian search engine. Since it’s been around for quite some time, Yandex has also branched out into language translation, a real-time bidding platform, and antivirus software. Most recently, it also introduced its own voice assistant, Alice, and integrated the new feature into the Yandex app. While the app can be downloaded in Ukrainian and Turkish as well, Alice can only speak Russian at the moment.  .... " 

A Creative Promotion Machine

Just now examining the creative personalization angle addressed here.  A mix of personalization and creativity.  But how much?

AI-Based Promotions – Welcome to the Creative Machine    By Vince Jeffs 

As a Marketer, when you craft successful promotions, you’re especially proud of their creative aspects And it’s understandable because creativity seems our last bastion against the perceived onslaught of machine domination, so we fiercely defend that turf. The tenuous argument being, “robots are no match for human creativity!” This viewpoint, besides inviting a cage match between humans and machines, also smacks of keeping math and machines out any solution, lest boring and stiff digital influences ruin the warmth of our marketing art and experience show. However, for all the aspiring “Michelangelos” out there, it’s time to rethink this, lest you find yourself selling one-off ad creatives at street-side craft shows.

A promotion is fundamentally your story; your pitch in a nutshell – delivered through a channel to an audience of one – assuming it gets through. And the fact that it oozes creativity and garners the right emotional response can be critically important to a customer’s reaction. But what is its true worth? Compared to what? Is there a chance that for most eyes it will succumb to fading into the backdrop with all the other one-size for all advertising clutter?    .... "

Listening to Your Patients

Could virtual assistants act as a means to start efficient dialog with patients?  Consider the patient interaction to be three-way.  An assistant starts the interaction,  to establish basic facts, fears, directions.  Suggests how the patient can learn about what should be the next steps.  Constructs a knowledge graph personalized to the needs of the patient.   Then the doctor (or health professional) is added to the conversation to augment the details .... schedule procedures, add research results, etc.

Making Time to Really Listen to Your Patients
Rana L.A. Awdish, Leonard L. Berry

Modern medicine’s true healing potential depends on a resource that is being systematically depleted: the time and capacity to truly listen to patients, hear their stories, and learn not only what’s the matter with them but also what matters to them. Some health professionals claim that workload and other factors have compressed medical encounters to a point that genuine conversation with patients is no longer possible or practical. We disagree.

Our experiences — as a critical-care physician whose own critical illness led her to train physicians in relationship-centered communication (Rana Awdish) and as a health services researcher who has interviewed and observed hundreds of patients, doctors, and nurses (Len Berry) — teach us that hurried care incurs hidden costs and offers false economy. In other words, it might save money in the short term but wastes money over time. .... " 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cautions About Using this Blog

Because of the nature of a blog,  and the way it presents information serially, please be careful to read the publication date of information.  It may render information invalid.    Also note that I cannot guarantee that links presented in this blog are still active.  Over time the information pointed to may no longer be there.  I only sometimes repair or remove bad links if they are important to me.    Also over time my interests,  connected to my work, will change.  So my coverage cannot be assured to be complete or correct.   Blog Posts:  15,457      Reads:   1.72M

Infrastructure Automation

Basic Infrastructure Automation is a No-Brainer – Why Aren’t You Doing It?    Chris Gardner,  Senior Analyst  Forrester

Everyone knows they need to automate. That is not a thought-provoking statement. In fact, when we ask infrastructure decision leaders their top priorities, automation shows up at #3, just behind consolidation and implementing operations analytics.

However, when we dig deeper with clients, we find hesitation. I would break their concerns into three broad camps:

Some are just starting their journey. For those, I suggest understanding the infrastructure-as-code landscape and learning how their operations people need to become developers. (Even for those well on their way, a refresh on these topics does not hurt).

Some have fairly sophisticated DevOps strategies and need to take them to the next level. For those, continuous delivery release automation (CDRA) tools are essential. A Forrester Wave™ by Rob Stroud and myself outlines the best.

Most, however, are struggling to achieve an automation baseline. It is not uncommon to see duplicate efforts across the organization using different tools for the same job. Some are using old tools. Some only have half their systems automated. The bottom line: their automation strategy is confused at best and broken at worst.

People are confused, but who can blame them? Between enterprise and open source, there are dozens of options for infrastructure automation. Which ones are best? .... "

(More at the link, ultimately this links to an expensive Forrester report)

Fake Data

My colleague Kaiser Fung talks fake data.  Good thoughts and pointers to examples and resources. Read his whole article at the link.

Here is a problem staring many digital/Web/social media analysts in the face today: what if you are told that the majority of the data you have been dutifully reporting, analyzing and (gasp!) modeling are fake data?

By fake data, I mean, useless numbers that have no bearing on reality: visits to websites that never happened, clicks on ads by hired hands, clicks on ads by bots, clicks on ads that are buried layers deep invisible to any humans, video "views" that result from automatically playing clips, video "views" that last one second, ad reach (i.e. number of people who have seen the ad) that exceeds Census counts, reviews planted by hired hands, etc. etc.  .... " 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ahold Digital Strategy

Considerable detail in this Progressive Grocer piece.

Ahold's digital strategy pays off
Ahold USA has seen success with a new digital strategy that has brought on 1 million new digital users, increased monthly app usage by 76% and driven a 179% increase in digital coupon activation over last year, the company reported. Ahold's new strategy focuses on enhancing promotions, personalization, and as a result, loyalty through investments in more relevant digital coupons, an improved mobile app, a recipe center, new sites and other digital tools. .... " 

Capturing the Value of APIs

Good general discussion of the architecture.   Good choices can make API possible and an asset.   In McKinsey.

What it really takes to capture the value of APIs

By Keerthi Iyengar, Somesh Khanna, Srinivas Ramadath, and Daniel Stephens

APIs are the connective tissue in today’s ecosystems. For companies who know how to implement them, they can cut costs, improve efficiency, and help the bottom line.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) were once largely limited to technical domains but have now become a significant engine of business growth. As the connective tissue linking ecosystems of technologies and organizations, APIs allow businesses to monetize data, forge profitable partnerships, and open new pathways for innovation and growth.

Early adopters across industries are already using APIs to create new products and channels and improve operational efficiency. Within the automotive industry, for instance, APIs are used to embed efficiency data, driving statistics, route information and real-time alerts into dashboards. Some retailers are using APIs to set up multi-brand shopping platforms, track inventory, and help consumers locate stores. And a handful of banks are partnering with fintechs and retailers, among others, to develop APIs that help customers integrate banking data into bookkeeping and investment software, and provide faster internal access to a range of account information. .... "

Shopping Free with the Google Assistant

Starting an examination of the user experience of hands free voice shopping at well known retailers.   The Google Home assistant has this capability using what they call Google Express.  I just received some instructions by mail for shopping at Target, Costco and Walmart.   Simply expressed, seems easy.   Here are their Voice Orders from Google Home instructions.  More impressions to follow.




More on this effort, from retailers perspective.
Example of its use with Target.

G-Drive Tips

We were previously a shop that worked entirely with Microsoft Office 365, but connecting with Universities find ourselves working with Google drive products.   Which I have grown used to for collaborative efforts.  Found these tips useful.  They are hardly hacks, but good to know.

5 Google Drive Hacks That Will Transform the Way You Work
For millions of businesses, G-Drive is an essential collaboration tool. Here's how to make it work even harder for you.   By Amanda Pressner Kreuser   Co-founder and managing partner, Masthead Media .... "

Short Sentences are not Always Better

Today you rarely see short sentences.  So it is best to at least best to think about shortening your expression.

Why Writing ShortSentences may be Short-Changing Your Reader
Ubiquity,  | By Philip Yaffe

" .... Virtually every article on good writing includes the advice to keep sentences short. On a list of writing tips, this is often number one. However, the advice is meaningless, and even detrimental.

In the first place, "short" is a weasel word. It has no real meaning because what may be "short" in one case may be "long" in another.

Secondly, and more importantly, a series of short sentences often gives less information than a well-crafted longer one, because the short sentences don't show the links between the different elements. The key word here is "well-crafted." Long rambling sentences are confusing and tiresome. However, a well-crafted longer sentence flows like a stream. The reader is seldom aware of how long it is because everything in it is exactly where it ought to be. They simply absorb everything as if by osmosis, never really realizing how much information they are getting in such easy, palatable form. ... "

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Alibaba Wants to put Virtual Helpers Everywhere

The idea of virtual assistance continues to expand. Look for more contextually focused solutions from a number of directions.

Alibaba Aims to “Master the Laws” of AI and Put Virtual Helpers Everywhere

CTO of the e-commerce giant says its new $15 billion research academy will explore AI, fintech, and quantum computing.  by Yiting Sun  in Technology Review

Alibaba’s CTO, Jeff Zhang, speaking at an event in Hangzhou, China.
China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has announced plans to invest more than $15 billion over the next three years in researching emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s CEO, announced his decision to establish the Alibaba DAMO Academy (DAMO stands for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook) on the first day of the company’s 2017 Computing Conference, which opened on Wednesday. Ma said the academy will do research aimed at “solving problems” related to the Internet of things, fintech, quantum computing, and AI. It will open seven research labs in China, the U.S., Russia, Israel, and Singapore.  .... " 

  See my index of players in this field.     We built some of the earliest assistants both within the company and consumer facing.   Connect to discuss.

Amazon Teen Prime Logins

Good further discussion at the link.  Will this lead to more use of assistants.  Good further discussion at the link.

Amazon gives teens their own Prime logins   by George Anderson in RetailWire.

Many teens already think of Amazon.com as their family’s default shopping app. What’s going to happen now that they can have their own Amazon accounts?

Amazon has introduced a new program that allows teenagers to have their own login and make use of Prime account benefits if their parents are members. In a nod to nervous parents, Amazon has designed the system to link to their accounts, which can be set up with pre-approved spending limits or require approval of all orders.

“As a parent of a teen, I know how they crave independence, but at the same time that has to be balanced with the convenience and trust that parents need. We’ve listened to families and have built a great experience for both teens and parents,” said Michael Carr, vice president, Amazon households. “For teens who have a parent with a Prime membership, they can also access Prime benefits at no additional cost, including fast, free shipping, Prime Video and gaming benefits with Twitch Prime.” 

Registered teens sign into the site using the Amazon App to make a purchase. Parents then receive a text or email with the order details. Kids may include a personal note for their parents providing a rationale for their purchase. In its press release, Amazon provided the example of a student needing a book for school as the type of message that might be sent. Other absurd examples also come to mind to anyone who has ever parented a teenager.   .... "

Kasparov Book: Deep Thinking

See Garry Kasparov's blog featuring information about his book: Deep Thinking

“Writing this book became type of therapy. It was a painful process, but I learned a great deal about myself and my opponent, and am now very glad I had the opportunity to turn all this experience into a positive story that I could share with the world. I make it clear in Deep Thinking that my loss to Deep Blue was also a victory for humans — its creators and everyone who benefits from our technological leaps. That is, everyone. This is always the case in the big picture, and why the book rejects the ‘man vs machine’ competition storyline. The machines work for us, after all. The last third of the book is about the bright future of our lives with intelligent machines, if we are ambitious enough to embrace it. I hope my optimism is contagious.”  .... ' 

This Medium article discusses this further.   And more on Amazon.


Engaging with Customers on Facebook

We looked at ways to connect effectively to customers to do product development.  How should it be done?

Does Engaging with Customers on Facebook Lead to Better Product Ideas?    By Irene Bertschek, Reinhold Kesler

Feedback on social media can serve as a valuable source of information for companies, helping them to improve and develop products and services. Examples include Gillette, which launched the very first product for assisted shaving based on feedback inferred from social media, and Tesla, which improved the company’s app based in part on CEO Elon Musk’s reading a customer’s complaints on Twitter. At end of 2016, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky asked on Twitter what the company could launch in 2017.

Anecdotes aside, does this user feedback actually help create better products? In our study, we analyze the role that Facebook plays in the innovation process. For our analysis, we used data from nearly 3,000 German manufacturing and service firms from a 2015 survey by the Centre for European Economic Research. In contrast to studies focusing on large listed companies, our data set includes a large share of small and medium-size enterprises reflecting what’s typical in the German economy. With this data, we set out to study how important social media is for smaller firms. ... " 

Thinking the Science in Data Science

Evocative piece:

The scientific method to approach a problem, in my point of view, is the best way to tackle a problem and offer the best solution. If you start your data analysis by simply stating hypotheses and applying Machine Learning algorithms, this is the wrong way.

By Rubens Zimbres, Data Scientist & Machine Learning Researcher.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of hype surrounding -- and lots of newcomers to -- the Data Science field. But what exactly is SCIENCE in Data Science? The scientific method to approach a problem, in my point of view, is the best way to tackle a problem and offer the best solution. If you start your data analysis by simply stating hypotheses and applying Machine Learning algorithms, this is the wrong way.

The picture below shows the steps necessary for scientific research, corresponding data analysis and simulation. In fact, it is a sketch of what I did in my PhD thesis. In a few words, I studied the past 27 years of Business Management literature and I tried to develop an epistemologically disruptive approach to measure and predict service quality, mixing Business Administration with Electrical Engineering concepts. Over the course of 4 years I performed quali-quantitative longitudinal research and developed a simulation using Agent-Based Modeling to try to find a 5 State Cellular Automata rule that could mimic human behavior. I approached Complexity concepts, self-organizing systems, emergence of order, and social networks. .... "  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Deep Learning from Neural Inspiration

So this is what all the fuss is about.  These things gather data and appear to learn.  They were inspired by biological neurons,  but are really not anything like a real neuron, either in structure or in the way the exact way they learn.  We are still learning about their biological details.

Quanta Mag piece on Deep Learning,   which describes the basics.  Some of the history.  This reminds me of when we were first introduced to the idea, and they were just called ANN or Artificial Neural Networks.   And there was less worry about the architecture,  or how the data would be effectively applied.     Now they have matured.

A quite non technical piece that introduces the concept, and a bit of the method.

How to Win at Deep Learning   By Pradeep Mutalik    In Quanta Magazine
What happens when you increase the number of layers in an artificial neural network? ... " 

Knowing Who You are Talking to

Amazon’s Alexa can now recognize different voices and give personalized responses.    Your Echo just got smart enough to tell you apart from the people you live with  .... "    by Chris Welch in TheVerge    

This has been mentioned as the best feature on Google Home, with greatest potential for intelligence. Understanding who you are talking to is the most important first part of a conversation, and a step a contextual dialog.

Superforecasting for Better Prediction

I was reminded today again of the need for the best forecasting possible when doing many kinds of analytics.     I have covered the concept of Superforecasting here a number of times.   Basically the idea that there are people out there who have a style of prediction that is significantly better than others, and can be used to provide this value.  

See  the book  Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction,” by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner on this, and my tag below. Also their frequently updated Good Judgement blog, which contains updated news and challenges.   They are even looking for volunteer forecasters there to compete.

A must read.   I will be following more closely and reporting on items from their blog now.  I taught forecasting, and this rings very true in value, beyond the usual analytic methods, or even Machine Learning or Big Data,

Podcast on the Nudge Nobel

How Richard Thaler’s ‘Simple Insights’ Led to a Nobel Prize
Wharton's Katherine Milkman discusses the awarding of the Nobel Prize to behavioral economist  

Richard H. Thaler, the “father of behavioral economics,” has this week won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in that field. Thaler has long been known for challenging a foundational concept in mainstream economics — namely, that people by-and-large behave rationally when making purchasing and financial decisions. Thaler’s research upended the conventional wisdom and showed that human decisions are sometimes less rational than assumed, and that psychology in general — and concepts such as impulsiveness — influence many consumer choices in often-predictable ways.

Once considered an outlier, behavioral economics today has become part of generally accepted economic thinking, in large part thanks to Thaler’s ideas. His research also has immediate practical implications. One of Thaler’s big ideas – his “nudge theory”  – suggests that the government and corporations, to take one example, can greatly influence levels of retirement savings with unobtrusive paperwork changes that make higher levels of savings an opt-out rather than an op-in choice. In fact, he co-authored a book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, which became a best-seller.

In this Knowledge@Wharton interview, Katherine Milkman, a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions — and a behavioral economist herself — discusses Thaler’s influence in economics and the practical applications of his ideas already underway. She attributes part of his success to his great clarity in thinking and in writing. She had interviewed professor Thaler for Knowledge@Wharton in 2016 regarding his then-new book, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics.  ... " 

Optimizing Production

My earliest responsibilities in industry were to use optimization technology to improve quality and cost of manufacturing.  So the concern is not new.   We continue to improve this.   In McKinsey:

Optimizing production in the age of the machine
As machines play an ever more important role in production, companies need smarter and more holistic ways to optimize performance. .... '