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Monday, October 31, 2016

Babbling Metadata

My favorite topic.  Metadata.  In the end it makes the data work. Hardly babble.  Good piece.  In the CACM.

The Power of Babble
Expect to be constantly and pleasantly befuddled  by Pat Helland

Metadata defines the shape, the form, and how to understand our data. It is following the trend taken by natural languages in our increasingly interconnected world. While many concepts can be communicated using shared metadata, no one can keep up with the number of disparate new concepts needed to have a common understanding.

English is the lingua franca of the world, yet there are many facets of humanity and the concepts held by different people that simply cannot be captured in English no matter how pervasive the language. In fact, English itself has nooks, crannies, dialects, meetups, and teenager slang that innovate and extend its permutations with usages that usually do not converge. My personal idiolect shifts depending on whether I am speaking to a computer science audience, my team at work with its contextual usages, my wife, my grandkids, or the waiter at a local restaurant. Different communities of people extend English in different ways.

Computer systems have an emerging and increasing common metadata for interoperability. XML and now JSON fill similar roles by making the parsing of messages easy and common. It's great we are no longer arguing over ASCII versus EBCDIC, but that's hardly the most challenging problem of understanding.

As we move up the stack of understanding, new subtleties constantly emerge. Just when we think we understand, the other guy has some crazy new ideas!

As much as we would like to have complete understanding of each other, independent innovation is far more important than crisp and clear communication. Our economic future depends on the "power of babble".  ..... " 

Defining What Computers Can do, and the Implications

AI and analytic methods have expanded the realm of what computers can do,  just like spreadsheets and word processors expanded computing skills to many office tasks, improving their efficiency, and as a result needing fewer accountants and typists.   Where is the boundary? What does that imply?   Article takes a cautionary look:

Today’s Artificial Intelligence Does Not Justify Basic Income
Even the simplest jobs require skills—like creative problem solving—that AI systems cannot yet perform competently. ... "    by Vincent Conitzer is a professor of computer science, economics, and philosophy at Duke University.

Implications of Agile Culture

I am teaching a course on leading analytics change at Columbia, and this Cisco blog post provided some interesting information about using methods like Agile.  Worth a look, passing it along to my students.   In the Cisco Blog. 

More on Staples Using Voice to Deliver Easy Button Assistant

An attempt to move the voice driven digital assistant, like Amazon's Echo, into the office.  Brings back the 'Easy' marketing angle.   Would seem that Amazon has the opportunity to do this as well.  Implications for procurement systems in general?  Implied or actual intelligence beyond 'Easy' for procurement?   With some expert discussion.  In Retailwire: 

Staples brings Watson to digital office assistants by Tom Ryan

"  ... With the help of artificial intelligence-based IBM Watson, Staples is testing a digital assistant that let’s small and medium-size businesses order products, track shipments and potentially handle many more needs.

The Staples Easy System features a circular “Easy” button — a bit larger than a hockey puck —designed to sit on a desk. Pressing the button elicits a query: “Please tell me what you need?” Customers voice their answers, such as “blue pens” or “Post-it notes” to reorder products, or ask questions, such as “I need to check on my order.” In addition to the button, customers can use a mobile app, which can also respond to voice communication. Text and e-mail options are also available.   ... " 

Wearables Reaching Saturation

Have Wearables reached a saturation point?

" ... With the success of FitBit and the advent of the Apple Watch, the tech press seems to have taken it as a foregone conclusion that wearable devices are on their way to the same ubiquity as the smartphone before them. But retailers might want to be wary about adopting this conventional wisdom. According to a new study, wearables aren’t trending upwards in popularity the way they were just a year ago.    ...    " 

by Matthew Stern in Retailwire

Surface Dial Examined

I have been a long time experimenter with alternative interfaces.  From mice, to feet driven mice, to touch pens, speech and neural interaction and more.  So I was interested when I saw the 'Surface Dial', being used for another channel of interaction on the Microsoft Surface.  There are other similar devices out there as well.  Most important, what software and other hardware works with the Dial? How can this be used efficiently with other interactions, like voice and mice and touch?  What does it mean for an integrated assistant like Cortana?  It could lead to the ultimate need for 'hands free' interaction, since it engages another hand.   Verge talks software and the Dial system.

Turn a Smart Phone Into a Car Key

Another security issue?  In the Verge: 

Toyota invented a box that turns your smartphone into a car key ... Smart Key Box will help make car-sharing easier ... " 

by Andrew J . Hawkins

Context and Text Mining

Context always matters.  Text mining or elsewhere.  Good example here.

Context Matters When Text Mining  Posted by Dalila Benachenhou  

Many times the most followed approach can result in failure.  The reason has more to do with thinking that one approach works in all cases.  This is specially true in text mining.  For instance, a common approach in clustering documents is to create tf-idf matrix for all documents, use SVD or other dimension reduction algorithm and then use a clustering.  In most cases, this will work; However, as I will present here,  there are instances where this process will not provide the intended result.  It will not work because the subject characteristic, or the context where the approach is used. Recipe reviews is one of these instances.

To show the importance of context driven text mining, I will use recipe reviews as example, more precisely Enchiladareviews.  You can find the cleaned dataset (tokenized by sentence structure and words, stop-words removed, and lower cased words) in github, and full description in my  previous blog. I sampled 239 reviews, or 1616 sentences.   .... ? 

Deep Learning Changing Your Life

Like it says, the basic neural pattern recognition ideas have been around for decades.  But improvements have led to deeper insights.  Are these changing your life?  In the CACM. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Price Optimization Using Decision Trees

 Interesting example, a technique I also experimented with for Retail.  Good because it relates to specific business process, and be can tested in that context.  Easy to understand the idea of a decision tree.  And building or using the model is also training in the business process.  But the methods involved are not new data science, and have been  around for decades.

Price Optimisation Using Decision Tree (Regression Tree) - Machine Learning  by Bernard Antwi Adabankah  

The research was conducted to find out what price  maximises profit without sacrificing the high demand for the product due to the price being too high nor sacrificing the margins on the product due to the price being too low. 

The goal is to experiment with different price levels for the same product in one market place and country to see how sales volumes change with prices and which volume level of products we can be sold for that optimal price range.  ... " 

Making it Easier for Happy Customers to Buy More

Yes.   Amazon understands this with Prime and Dash and Echo.  In the HBR:   " ... You have great loyalty scores and low customer churn. But sales are flat – or worse, falling. What’s going on? In most cases, this happens because you’ve failed to capture the economic potential of the goodwill in your customer base. ... " 

Considering Rebel Talent

Let Your Workers Rebel  by Francesca Gino
Employee engagement is a problem. To fix it, encourage your workers to break rules and be themselves. We’ll show you who does it right and how you can too.

Neural Brain to Text Progress

Remember this topic being brought up for a long time, and often claims that is was close to happening.  Have now been involved in the spoken interface for some time, a reliable thought interface sounds very appealing.   Considerable detail in the full article about the challenge.

Front. Neurosci., 27 September 2016  
Automatic Speech Recognition from Neural Signals: A Focused Review

Christian Herff* and Tanja Schultz

Cognitive Systems Lab, Department for Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Speech interfaces have become widely accepted and are nowadays integrated in various real-life applications and devices. They have become a part of our daily life. However, speech interfaces presume the ability to produce intelligible speech, which might be impossible due to either loud environments, bothering bystanders or incapabilities to produce speech (i.e., patients suffering from locked-in syndrome). For these reasons it would be highly desirable to not speak but to simply envision oneself to say words or sentences. Interfaces based on imagined speech would enable fast and natural communication without the need for audible speech and would give a voice to otherwise mute people.

 This focused review analyzes the potential of different brain imaging techniques to recognize speech from neural signals by applying Automatic Speech Recognition technology. We argue that modalities based on metabolic processes, such as functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, are less suited for Automatic Speech Recognition from neural signals due to low temporal resolution but are very useful for the investigation of the underlying neural mechanisms involved in speech processes. In contrast, electrophysiologic activity is fast enough to capture speech processes and is therefor better suited for ASR. Our experimental results indicate the potential of these signals for speech recognition from neural data with a focus on invasively measured brain activity (electrocorticography). As a first example of Automatic Speech Recognition techniques used from neural signals, we discuss the Brain-to-text system. ... " 

Storytelling for Brands in CPG

In Adage:
How Storytelling Training Helped Georgia-Pacific Build Sales Without Boosting Budgets ... Georgia-Pacific's creative overhaul of eight brands is rooted in storytelling training for its marketers. ... " 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

IOT as an Integration of Things

Nicely done article.  Clear it is an integration of things.  But the how and details need to be closely considered.

Turning Data into Leverage, Decisions.

Always my ultimate argument, its about the decisions being made.

Turning data into leverage
Ozan Turgut discusses how to use visualization and analytics to apply data to decision making.

Video by Ozan Turgut ... " 

Conversational Analytics Using AI

An obvious thought, place bot style AI into a conversational interaction about doing analytics for given problems and data.    The caution is still that we still don't know how to manage complex conversations,  just simplistic ones.  Perhaps as a kind of conversationally managed automation of data science.   This effort was new to me.  Plan to take a look.  Drastin unveils the World's first conversational analytics product powered by Artificial Intelligence.   See the Drastin site.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Open Source Dashboards to Organize Data

Check out Astronomer (not related to the physical science)

Astronomer believes that every organization can benefit from having their data properly centralized, organized and cleaned. We’re building a platform to do just that.

For most businesses requiring flexible and powerful BI, Tableau is the first word that comes to mind.  If you know what KPI's you want to track and don’t have the budget for a traditional enterprise dashboard, there are a number of open-source options with greater flexibility and affordability that we’re really excited about.

Check out our blog post by Ben, Astronomer's Head of Delivery, discussing some powerful open source dashboards for your data. ... " 

Bots and AI Predictions

Nicely done piece in Venture Beat.  Lots more links there.  I am sure that most of the systems that implement 'AI' we interact with will be in a Bot form.  Watch for them.  Examples with links below.

8 predictions for A.I. and bots in the next 24 months  Dave Cotter

In the last twelve months, we’ve witnessed a huge surge in the development and adoption of chatbots, artificial intelligence (A.I.), and machine learning. Many startups, including my own (ReplyYes), are utilizing A.I. and chatbots to help consumers engage with brands through their mobile devices in interesting and creative ways. Examples include the Domino’s chatbot, which enables customers to order a pizza through Facebook Messenger; the Burberry chatbot for London Fashion Week, which helps customers order products they see on the runway; and Lowercase Alpha, which helps founders and friends of Chris Sacca’s venture capital firm Lowercase discover some of the best new apps in the world.

Given the increasing interest in the field and the venture capital dollars being spent to build creative chatbot and A.I. solutions, we’ve developed eight predictions that outline where we think things will evolve in the next 18 to 24 months.   ... " 

Amazon Prime in China

Will be interesting how this plays out.  I will be particularly interested in how it creates new channels to China.

Amazon Prime arrives in China to further challenge Alibaba
What will Jack Ma do? ... With over 63 million people already paying for Prime, Amazon is now expanding its subscription service to one of the largest marketplaces in the world: China. The retailer has announced that mainland users can now enjoy free, unlimited shipping on millions of domestic items, as well as others from the special "overseas orders" category. As part of a promotion that lasts until February, Amazon is offering the membership for $188 yuan (around $30) for the first year. Once this rate ends, Prime will cost 388 yuan (about $60) every 12 months.  ... " 

Thinking Google's AI Engine

A look at what Google has in AI engines.   Have talked to some people lately about the difference between machine learning and AI.   To me machine learning means finding useful patterns with analytical methods.  AI means applying patterns to get human or business value.  It is Intelligence. They can often be usefully combined.

Quest for a Topological Quantum Computer

In the CACM.  Pointing to a Nature article.  Was part of a group that looked at potential practical applications in complex supply chain applications.

' ... The race is on build a "universal" quantum computer. Such a device could be programmed to speedily solve problems that classical computers cannot crack, potentially revolutionizing fields from pharmaceuticals to cryptography. ... " 

Digital Ads Overtaking Traditional

Digital Ads to Overtake Traditional Ads in U.S. Local Markets by 2018
By Suman Bhattacharyya

If there was any doubt that the future of local advertising is digital, the latest local ad revenue forecast from BIA/Kelsey confirms that revenue from local-focused online ads will exceed that of traditional ads aimed at local audiences by 2018.  It's part of a digital transformation of local-focused ads in communities across the country, and risks sidelining traditional print ads. ... "

Email Introductions

Good advice for email introductions.  I remember someone offering this advice to me.

Health Data Machine Learning

" ... Identifying Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with Machine Learning Framework

Dr. Ming Li from Sun Yat-sen University CMU Joint Institute of Engineering presented “Multimodal behavior signal analysis and interpretation for young kids with ASD” as part of the Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series. Please continue the conversation here in this discussion group with Ming who's work can be found here https://www.jie.cmu.edu/faculty-staff/profile/li-ming.html. To see and hear a replay of today's presentation, go to: http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/ and select the recording next to October 27, 2016 presentation. Thank you, Dr. Ming! 

Dianne Fraher Fodell
Program Director, IBM Global University Programs ... " 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Google Fiber Pauses

Many think they have stopped this moonshot, and they say that in their official blog in a rather round about way.  Was harder than they thought.  In the Google Fiber Blog.

How Do We Enhance Human Intelligence?

Where is Human Intelligence (HI) going with augmentation?   Been trying for a long time, still quite a way to go.   'Starting to identify', is a good embedded phrase.  Lots of work still to do.

Bryan Johnson 
Founder @KernelCo @OSFund & Braintree.

Kernel’s Quest to Enhance Human Intelligence:
Today I’m announcing a $100M commitment to Kernel in an effort to enhance human intelligence and reimagine our future. Unlocking our brain is the most significant and consequential opportunity in history — and it’s time sensitive.

We’re starting to identify the mechanisms underlying neural code and make them programmable. Our biology and genetics have become increasingly programmable; our neural code is next in line. Programming our neural code will enable us to author ourselves and our existence in ways that were previously unimaginable. ..."


Google takes a look at the characteristics of supershoppers, with interesting statistics.

Madefire Telling Stories

Brought to my attention at the recent Microsoft announcements regarding 3D image delivery.

A New Storytelling Era
Experience Stories

Madefire is undertaking an epic journey
One that we believe will revolutionize how stories are told, read, and shared. One that will transform a once static medium into an interactive experience that unfolds dynamically on mobile devices, and evolves with each new episode. It’s our Motion Book Tool that will make all this possible. We built it to unite the timeless beauty of sequential art with cutting-edge technology, and to give new creative freedom to the world’s most visionary creators and storytellers. All in the service of advancing the art of storytelling.

The journey toward a new era in storytelling is just beginning. And we don’t consider this path to be ours alone. Stories belong to the world, to everyone, to you. So we hope you’ll join us for the ride—we promise you an adventure unlike any other. ... " 

Supply Chain at McCormick

On supply chain and planning at McCormick.   Not an uncommon approach.  More in the article:

In Consumergoods: 
" ... Fast-forward to today, and ensuring McCormick’s products are available when and where consumers expect them has made for a much more complex supply chain. That is why about 12 years ago, McCormick embarked on an initiative to develop close, collaborative relationships with a number of its retailers and national food wholesaler customers. This initiative evolved into its customer collaboration platform, which has allowed McCormick to develop formal vendor managed inventory (VMI) relationships today.  ... "

Smarter Health Devices

An example of how predictive weather data might be used to make devices smarter.

IBM Is Using Weather Data To Help Predict Asthma Attacks
IBM is entering into the race to develop "smart" inhalers and software systems for asthma patients. ... "

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Hidden Treasures of Procurement

Was involved in procurement at a number of different levels in the enterprise.  This Bain & Co article on the topic.   It is a gold mine of possibilities.    A good place to first think about analytical methods.   Lots of solutions are floating out there, off the ehelf and tailored to your needs.

Unearthing the Hidden Treasure of Procurement
October 12, 2016 Bain Brief By David Schannon, Sam Thakarar, Klaus Neuhaus and Raymond Tsang

The CEO of a global insurance company knew procurement was sitting on a trove of hidden savings. Year after year, regional teams working separately trimmed only a modest $15 million from the company’s $3 billion cost base. Determined to unearth greater gains, he gave the chief of procurement a strategic remit and agreed to build a new global operating model. As the company’s purchasing experts began to work side-by-side with the CFO and business unit leaders, big savings started to flow. Within two years, the company had transformed its buying and spending patterns, netting more than $200 million in savings.

Most companies only scratch the surface of procurement efficiency. Those that dig deeper discover that the savings can be dramatic. External purchasing is the largest single expense category for most firms, averaging 43% of total costs (see Figure 1). Bain research shows that world-class procurement organizations can reduce a company’s purchasing cost base by an average of 8%–12% and deliver additional annual savings of 2%–3%. .... " 

A Conversation with David Bunnell

A visionary of the personal computer.  I remember reading of his work long ago.

David Bunnell (1947-2016): A Remembrance

A Conversation with David Bunnell [3.13.00]

My epiphany came while I was looking at microfiched back issues of Scientific American. I came across an article penned by a nerdy Xerox scientist named Alan Kay. The article discussed some experiments for which Kay had built a prototype "personal computer" called the Alto that used a mouselike pointing device and a keyboard to communicate through a connected video screen. The great, unbelievable thing about this was that no one at that point had commercialized the idea because each Alto machine cost a few hundred thousand dollars to build. And Xerox was a bit lame in any case.

My vision started to take shape: As chips got cheaper and faster and could hold more memory, the day would come when we could build a true personal computer—one that was affordable to most people.     ...  " 

Judea Pearl on Engines of Evidence

A favorite researcher on the topic.  How do we understand how evidence models results?  In the Edge: 

Engines of Evidence,  A Conversation With Judea Pearl
A new thinking came about in the early '80s when we changed from rule-based systems to a Bayesian network. Bayesian networks are probabilistic reasoning systems. An expert will put in his or her perception of the domain. A domain can be a disease, or an oil field—the same target that we had for expert systems. 

The idea was to model the domain rather than the procedures that were applied to it. In other words, you would put in local chunks of probabilistic knowledge about a disease and its various manifestations and, if you observe some evidence, the computer will take those chunks, activate them when needed and compute for you the revised probabilities warranted by the new evidence.

It's an engine for evidence. It is fed a probabilistic description of the domain and, when new evidence arrives, the system just shuffles things around and gives you your revised belief in all the propositions, revised to reflect the new evidence.         

JUDEA PEARL, professor of computer science at UCLA, has been at the center of not one but two scientific revolutions. First, in the 1980s, he introduced a new tool to artificial intelligence called Bayesian networks. This probability-based model of machine reasoning enabled machines to function in a complex, ambiguous, and uncertain world. Within a few years, Bayesian networks completely overshadowed the previous rule-based approaches to artificial intelligence.

Leveraging the computational benefits of Bayesian networks, Pearl realized that the combination of simple graphical models and probability (as in Bayesian networks) could also be used to reason about cause-effect relationships. The significance of this discovery far transcends its roots in artificial intelligence. His principled, mathematical approach to causality has already benefited virtually every field of science and social science, and promises to do more when popularized. 

He is the author of Heuristics; Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems; and Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference. He is the winner of the Alan Turing Award.  .... " 

Staples Tests Echo Competitor

Seems like an unexpected direction, but is not.  Also I like the fact that this could open interactions to the workplace.  'Easy Button', though no longer in their ads,  states the premise.  Increases engagement.

Staples develops an office competitor to Amazon Echo and Google Home
The office supply company turns its Easy Button into device that will be the assistant's assistant  ... 

Massachusetts-based Staples is testing a smart assistant device that looks like its Easy Button, which was launched as a marketing campaign and gained a bit of a cult following, but that customers can use to order products, track shipments and help with returns. ... " 

And in Chain Store Age.

Computers as Furniture

Interesting suggestion, that we are not all that interested in the evolving capabilities of computing.  Its furniture, we need it, but the details are unimportant.   So the announcements being made in the fall are less closely watched.by the public.   Industry though,  often in the process of digitization, needs to know the details to make good decisions.  And anyone who works with computers at work, and that is now most everyone, should be aware.  In The Verge: 

Mossberg: The PC has become part of the furniture
New designs are coming, but not that old excitement
by Walt Mossberg@waltmossberg  ... " 

Automating Big Data Analysis

Automating big-data analysis

With new algorithms, data scientists could accomplish in days what has traditionally taken months.
Larry Hardesty | MIT News Office

Last year, MIT researchers presented a system that automated a crucial step in big-data analysis: the selection of a “feature set,” or aspects of the data that are useful for making predictions. The researchers entered the system in several data science contests, where it outperformed most of the human competitors and took only hours instead of months to perform its analyses.

This week, in a pair of papers at the IEEE International Conference on Data Science and Advanced Analytics, the team described an approach to automating most of the rest of the process of big-data analysis — the preparation of the data for analysis and even the specification of problems that the analysis might be able to solve.

The researchers believe that, again, their systems could perform in days tasks that used to take data scientists months.

“The goal of all this is to present the interesting stuff to the data scientists so that they can more quickly address all these new data sets that are coming in,” says Max Kanter MEng ’15, who is first author on last year’s paper and one of this year’s papers. “[Data scientists want to know], ‘Why don’t you show me the top 10 things that I can do the best, and then I’ll dig down into those?’ So [these methods are] shrinking the time between getting a data set and actually producing value out of it.” ...  '

Google Re-inventing the WhiteBoard

Have seen a number of attempts at this.  None really successful.  Perhaps the ultimate solution will be some augmented reality approach.    Surprised in particular that Google is playing here.  In CWorld:

Google is trying to reinvent the whiteboard

Jamboard is a cloud service and 55-inch display aimed at enhancing collaboration

What's big, red and supposed to be the next big thing in workplace collaboration? Google's new Jamboard, a massive touch display and accompanying cloud service that's supposed to help business users brainstorm together. 

Jamboard works like a digital whiteboard, letting users sketch out ideas, attach digital sticky notes, plus bring in content from the web into a single, constantly updating workspace. People can use Jamboard to collaborate both on the 55-inch mega-display of the same name, or using accompanying tablet and smartphone apps for iOS and Android. .... " 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

IBM Announcements: Linking Watson to Reality

Today's announcements, which included considerable new thoughts for the use of Data, Machine learning and Bot shaped designs.     So better interfaces to data, analytics and humans.   Comes down to how easily and cheaply such skills can be prototyped, tested and delivered.  In existing business environments.    In SiliconAngle:

IBM Augments Watson to Better Understand Humans and Data  by Maria Deutscher

Microsoft to Democratize Deep Learning

Continued tendency to create and liberate tools for Cognitive. I like that.   Still will take considerable design and data management tools and skills.   Deep learning is a very useful, but still narrow skill for generalized AI.

Microsoft releases beta of version 2.0 of its Cognitive Toolkit to 'democratize AI'
Microsoft is releasing a beta of its Cognitive Toolkit for developers looking to make use of deep-learning techniques in their apps and services.  by Mary Jo Foley

Retail Marketing to Millennials

In Retailwire.  Good overview on the use of channel interactions by millennials in Retail, and discussion.   In the discussion, Peter Fader makes a good point:

Peter Fader
Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School of the Univ. of Pennsylvania

Allow me to expand on Ralph’s key point: “not all Millennials are alike” — in fact they’re vastly different. All these efforts to stereotype and target Millennials are doing more harm than good for retailers. Any effort to paint all consumers in a large demographic group with the same brush is a terrible mistake.

A modest proposal: let’s stop stereotyping and focus instead on finding/leveraging *meaningful* differences across consumers …  " 

Manufacturing System Security Updates

Recent malicious attacks have highlighted the need to update systems to provide security.  In the Cisco Blog:

Have you ever told your team, “Upgrading our equipment is too expensive and likely to cause downtime. Let’s just keep it running.” Ultimately, you made a risk decision. While cyber security hasn’t been a critical risk factor until recently, it has quickly emerged as one of today’s biggest risks.

Manufacturing risk management often comes down to a cost and safety discussion. These costs include downtime, IP theft, counterfeiting, brand damage, personal injury, and loss of life. Furthermore, significant security attack costs must be reported on your company’s SEC filings. ... "

' ... “Manufacturers are increasingly being targeted not just by traditional malicious actors such as hackers and cyber-criminals, but by competing companies and nations engaged in corporate espionage. Motivations range from money and revenge to competitive advantage and strategic disruption.”  – Deloitte

Analog Methods for AI

Came into computing at the very end of analog computing systems being taught.     I remember asking why,  and got the answer that they were being replaced by digital methods.  Essentially a digital system could simulate any analog system and was more flexible and programmable.    Is the world changing for AI applications?  In IEEE Spcetrum, a guest article on the topic. How Analog and Neuromorphic Chips Will Rule the Robotic Age  By Shahin Farshchi

Solving the Problem of AI

Stanford's Fei Fei Li Looks to Solve the Problem of Artificial Intelligence

Right after the Startup of the Year competition finished, Fei Fei Li, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Stanford University, took the stage at Innovate! and Celebrate to welcome entrepreneurs, founders, and attendees to the conference with an in-depth discussion of artificial intelligence. And when we say in-depth, that is exactly what we mean.

Learning Visual Intelligence:

Li started the discussion off by discussing the importance of vision when it comes to general intelligence. Going back more than 500 million years, she explained that there was no bigger evolutionary expansion than the development of one particular body part: the eyes.  ... " 

Defining Cognitive Computing

I like to see what the definitions, and thus perceptions of new technologies are from varied kinds of customers. Here from Customerthink.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Marketing with a Watson Bot - GSK: Cough and Cold Pharma

An example of a bot style interaction with a product.   Using IBM Watson as a means to provide natural language, cognitive knowledge.  Again recall our Mr Clean efforts in this area. We did not have the Tech to deliver this directly through an ad.   More details to follow.  Look forward to trying this.  In CWorld:

With IBM's Watson, GlaxoSmithKline tackles sniffle and cough questions
If you start feeling a cold or flu coming on this season, you will be able to reach out to IBM's artificial intelligence-fueled Watson to find some answers to your sniffly, coughy questions.

GlaxoSmithKline, (GSK) the world's sixth-largest pharmaceutical company, is teaming up with IBM to use Watson to better connect with customers.

The London-based company plans to start using Watson Ads in November, enabling people to ask questions by voice or text right through GSK's online ads. ... "

Considering the Correctness of AI

More from Cambridge University and the newly formed Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI):    Artificial intelligence: computer says YES (but is it right?)

My comments:

As long as we measure business results, and statistically measure results that are significantly better, we will be OK.   This is similar to the argument of better vs best.    Best, also called optimal,  almost always exists under some context that can be difficult to repeat, but assuring you get better can still provide real value.   All my experiences have dealt with this.

True there are scenarios where we want perfection,  correctness, optimal or best solutions.   But humans cannot always achieve that, and neither can AI.  So we add layers of checking, constraints, regulation and even ethics to both humans and machines to protect ourselves from this ultimate liability.   Which is why we further add risk understanding and analysis.  The integration with the use of smarter machines is no different.

(update)  And related, in Nature:  http://www.nature.com/news/there-is-a-blind-spot-in-ai-research-1.20805

Beware of Rating People Online

Not usually a follower of this, but happened on this bitingly vicious satirical look at the online 'ratings' game for people and businesses.   Exaggerated, as all satire should be.  Has a glaring hole in its logic, as pointed out in an excellent The Verge review below.  Still makes its point well.  Plausible that we might head in this direction.  Have seen systems proposed that derived personal reputation. Could make any consumer technologist squirm.   First episode of 'Black Mirror' on Netflix.

Black Mirror's third season opens with a vicious take on social media by Tasha Robinson

Alexa Design Studio

Elev8  Alexa Application Design Studio

Interesting claims to allow the development of Alexa skills without programming for home or business use.  Local company here.  Good idea, examining.

" ... Elev8 harnesses the power of Amazon Alexa's innovative technology by providing users the ability to create applications without any prior developer experience. The intuitive interface allows content creation to be simple and quick, removing the barriers currently set for non-programmers. ... " 

Practical Uses of AR in Maintenance

Practical case of the use of AR, with some similarity to our investigations before the tech had evolved to this point.  Some of the biggest issues, we discovered, were that wearing the devices were cumbersome, say in the hot environment of a plant.   Especially for time consuming service tasks. These operational details are important.  Inclusion of cognitive/AI and digital Assistant capabilities, linked to system data also make much sense.  More detail at the link ..

Going down: Bringing AR to elevator servicing with HoloLens
ThyssenKrupp recently launched its use of Microsoft HoloLens technology in its elevator service operations worldwide. Currently, the global elevator service industry is valued at over $44 billion per year and more than 12 million elevators transport over 1 billion people each day.

The special mixed reality device is set to empower more than 24,000 of the company’s service technicians to do their jobs more safely and efficiently, and keep people and cities moving better than ever before. ... " 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Brainspace Data Visualization


Augmenting intelligence to accelerate human potential

Welcome to the future of digital investigations.  ... 

Discovery 5 is the fastest and most powerful weapon for conducting digital investigations. Developed using our patented machine learning platform, Discovery is a comprehensive investigative application designed to help you quickly decipher the truth. ... " 

I see that the CIA is funding brainspace via IQT (IN-Q-Tel) .   Like the fact that Brainspace is emphasizing specific business challenges (investigations) .  More on the funding here.

" .... Partnership will empower the U.S. Intelligence Community with advanced machine learning and data visualization for investigations and cyber security.

Dallas, Texas – October 11, 2016 – Brainspace, creators of Brainspace Discovery™, an industry leader for unstructured data analysis, today announced a strategic partnership agreement with an investment from In-Q-Tel, Inc. (IQT). IQT is the non-profit strategic investor that identifies and accelerates the development of innovative technologies to support the mission of the U.S. intelligence community. This strategic partnership accelerates the emergence of Brainspace as the market leader in analytics for digital investigations and further validates the company’s machine learning technology in supporting the operational requirements of the U.S. intelligence community. ... " 

Also their blog.

Thinking Drive-Through Data

Been involved in several drive-through retail analyses.    So this is interesting.  It is pointed out that this will allow the connect of your car generated data to your Amazon online purchase data.  Deserves some thought.  In the Atlantic.

End of the Data Scientist Era? Not Right Away.

In Forbes.  Insightful article by Margaret Harrist of Oracle.   An interesting view of how data science is moving towards becoming automated.     Agree this is happening,  though the time required and dynamics it will require to become common will vary considerably by business domain.    It is pointed out there are three broad skills sets involved:

" -  The business-savvy data scientist, typically hired by lines of business.

   - The programmer data scientist who’s adept with statistical analysis toolkits, often hired to work in the IT department.

   - The algorithm expert who can build hypothesis and statistical models, frequently hired by startups and marketing agencies.  ... "

True its  rare to see all of these in one person.  And also inefficient to have them in one person.  Saw this at several enterprise interactions.  Companies try to hire programmers/algorithm experts, with no business saavy.  Difficult to establish ongoing expertise linked to the business.  We are evolving towards systems that will operate by the business process and data experts, not programmers.  Timing will vary, and there will still always be need for some 'science' to develop new techniques.   But probably not as many coders as before.

Microsoft Releases five Data Viz and Storytelling Courses

 Following up now ...

Microsoft Power BI team releases courses on data visualization and storytelling by Pradeep

With Microsoft Power BI, data journalism goes beyond data exploration and allows reporters, bloggers, broadcasters, and analysts to spend their time telling stories. Data visualization tools like Power BI helps emphasize messages and engage audiences through immersive and data rich stories. Microsoft Power BI team recently collaborated with renowned visualization expert Alberto Cairo to share the methodology behind graphics and how they can support data storytelling by developing five Data Visualization and Storytelling courses.

The Data Visualization and Storytelling courses include an introduction to visualization, an overview on data exploration, detail on truthful visualization, tips for choosing the right graphics, and insights on design and narrative. Additionally, the classes feature Power BI demos throughout, so viewers can follow along and apply their learnings.   ... "    
See more info at the link.

Buckminster Fuller Page

I was brought to the attention of the Buckminster Fuller page of Artsy.net.  We had some brief interactions in the 70s about his innovation and architectural design.  See my post in 2008 about retrospectives then.

" .... Best known for popularizing the geodesic dome, R. Buckminster Fuller produced theories and contributions to science, architecture, and design that amounted to a sweeping and utopian vision for the future. Self-described as a “comprehensive, anticipatory design scientist,” Fuller sought to alter the landscape of daily life with his prefabricated homes and cutting-edge vehicles. “My objective was humanity’s comprehensive success in the universe,” he once said. His projects include the “Dymaxion” house and car, whose simplicity and adaptability to different landscapes were intended for mass production and efficient living, though neither was ever made widely available. The spirit of Fuller’s inventiveness remains influential to present-day entrepreneurs, artists, and inventors alike. ... " 
American, 1895–1983, Milton, Massachusetts, based in Los Angeles, California  ... " 

Longer Career Models

A look at exended and multiple careers, from the view of the company and individual.

In the HBR: What Happens When Careers Last 20 Years Longer?  by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Keep Your Home Devices from Being Hacked

Apparently yesterday's denial of service attack that brought down a number of key services on the Internet was caused by a distributed denial of services (DDOS) attack.  Some are saying this was launched from hijacked home devices.

Keep your home IOT devices from becoming zombies on the internet.

Change default passwords.
Change passwords, use 2 factor authentication, or services like Lastpass
Accept all security updates.

But as long as there are enough people/things out there that are not doing this,  you can still lose access to crucial services.  All this points to the continued fragility of the internet.  Considering how many ways we and businesses depend on the Internet, this is worrisome.

More in Mashable.

Machine for all Trades

Watson as a machine of all trades.  Or at least some trades for now.   A good view of where IBM has been applying cognitive applications based on the Watson model.  Natural to see the currently  implemented narrowly defined applications.  Have been involved in a couple of these attempts over the last two years.   There is still lots of room for application.

Beginners Guide to Convolutional Neural Nets

A beginners intro by a student, about how they work, how they are used and the data required.  Nicely explained.

Consumer Brands Using Chatbots

I have in the talked some of our efforts about using chatbots for consumer brands.  FastCompany more generally has an examination of current brands that use chatbots, including Sephora.  Good general design ideas and cautions.

Very Human Lessons From Three Brands That Use Chatbots To Talk To Customers ... Seamless interactions make for happier and more engaged users who want to keep coming back. ... " 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Stephen Hawking Opens British AI Hub

Will be interesting to see the varying views of Hawking and colleagues on different aspects of AI.  Building these 'Centers' for studying complex and disruptive tech seems to be growing.  Following.

Stephen Hawking Opens British Artificial Intelligence Hub
Agence France-Presse (10/19/16) 

Scientist Stephen Hawking on Wednesday opened an artificial research (AI) center at the U.K.'s Cambridge University. Funded by a $12.3-million grant from the Leverhulme Trust, the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) will bring together researchers, industry representatives, and policymakers to make sure AI technology is used to benefit humanity. The ethics of AI is a core concern for Hawking, who has warned the technology's misuse could pose serious risks to civilization. "It will bring disruption to our economy," Hawking says. "And in the future, AI could develop a will of its own--a will that is in conflict with ours." Researchers will be tasked with developing systems that have goals aligned with human values and are sufficiently trustworthy. The center also will pursue projects ranging from the regulation of autonomous weapons to the impact of AI on democracy. "We don't need to see AI as replacing us, but can see it as enhancing us: we will be able to make better decisions, on the basis of better evidence and better insights," says Stephen Cave, the center's director. "AI will help us to learn about ourselves and our environment--and could, if managed well, be liberating."  ... " 

Sal Kahn on Mastery Based Learning

Sal speaks at TED about mastery-based learning

Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics? Yes, it's complicated, but Sal shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace.  Created by Sal Khan.  ... " 

Autonomic Platforms Evolving

I had not used this precise tag 'Autonomic'  before, but it is understandable:  How do you fully or partially automate systems that support business process?  The definition is broad.  And to be clear has been around for a long time.  Notably in process control.

Need to now link these systems to current architectures and systems, and to people who are still making decisions.  Cognitive systems, AI, Machine learning, Predictive Algorithms ... have all evolved to the point this will lead to more autonomy.  Topic often mentioned in this blog.

Good Overview from Deloitte-WSJ:

Autonomics Shake Up IT Systems Management
IT organizations are increasingly pursuing self-managing autonomic platforms, which can detect and fix their own problems without human intervention.

Autonomic computing platforms, which are IT systems capable of configuring, optimizing, and even healing themselves, could free up IT staffers to focus on more valuable activities and help relieve strain on IT budgets. Many traditional IT operations are candidates for autonomics, including those that are workflow-driven, repetitive, or require reconciliation between systems. CIOs overseeing large, complex IT operations stand to benefit enormously from these burgeoning systems, says George Collins, CTO at Deloitte Digital.

“Autonomic platforms have arisen from a confluence of advancements in technology, from virtualization to containerization, more intelligent configuration management, and a more agile manner of delivering technology environments,” Collins says. “Autonomic platforms allow us to shift attention away from building the scaffolding of IT to creating a more repeatable way of packaging, delivering, and managing IT.”  .... " 

Macy's to RFID Tag Everything

We were early innovators in the RFID tagging space. Saw it expand widely at the case level.  I now see this as an area where you can use some of the same learning for the internet of things,    The 'thing'  here simply announces its ID number to a reader or beacon.

Especially useful where you are seeking the ability to look for key value equations for visibility into the supply chain.  A powerful analytic tool.  Here the point is made that there is real value into letting the customer 'see' the supply chain.  Macy's taking the process to the item level for everything, still unusual in retail.  Described below in Retail Wire, with discussions.

Macy’s to RFID tag everything by George Anderson

Macy’s plans to expand its use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track every item in its stores and fulfillment centers by the end of next year. The move is expected to give the department store the visibility into its supply chain needed to fully deliver on the promise of a seamless omnichannel shopping experience for its customers.

“I don’t know how, in an omnichannel, data-driven … world, you can take data accuracy lightly,” Bill Connell, senior vice president of logistics and operations at Macy’s, told RFID Journal. “The customer base is increasingly demanding. ‘I want it. I want to know you have it. I want to tell you how I want you to get it to me. And I want to do that right now.’ If you don’t have that level of confidence in your data, you have a pretty big problem.”  ... ' 

Amazon's Bezos: Echo and AI for Health Care

Had brainstormed some possibilities here, but still felt the devices had not evolved enough in terms of accuracy and dependability.  Will be watching Amazon Echo and new entries into the voice activated and AI driven space.

Jeff Bezos sees a big future for Amazon Echo, Alexa and AI in health care
by  Monica Nickelsburg  ...

Quantum Dot Energy Extraction

In IEEE Spectrum.  Quantum dot research at Los Alamos points to efficient window coatings that can extract useful energy.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sailfish Suite

Just recently saw this:  Big Data Analytics using the Sailfish Suite. 

" ... MCLEAN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An algorithm that predicts consumer retail trends down to the style of sweater that’s most likely to sell out this fall. And another that could transform heart disease diagnosis. Buried in the volumes of data we produce every day are answers to questions that may fuel a retailer’s success. Or insights that can help to solve challenges that have plagued us for decades. But until society becomes more conversant in analytics and data science, this transformative knowledge will remain out of reach. With updates to its Sailfish platform, Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) is leading commercial and government organizations to learn more from their data and to spur business and mission success. For the first time, users can try their own hand at analytics by accessing Booz Allen Hamilton’s Sailfish trial that is fully available to the public. ... " 

Shopper Marketing Blog

Just discovered this blog 'for practical shopper marketing'.  Some useful thoughts about the topic. We did not agree with the premise, but treated the problem as a laboratory effort to be translated into the real world as engineering to be tested.

Shopper Marketing an Awkward Teenager
Shopper marketing in the Consumer Packaged Goods domain has blossomed in the last decade but may have entered its awkward teen years.  I had an opportunity to interview hundreds of practitioners from dozens of companies over the last two years, and it’s become apparent that shopper marketing is still searching for its identity, experiencing growing pains, and facing numerous obstacles. It is now time for this discipline to grow up and take itself seriously.  ... "

Neural Networks and Complex Reasoning

Beyond just recognition, on to recognizing and reasoning.  Like to see this in a business context that includes complex quant optimization.  Some of our own experiences typically built a representative quant model, then had humans do the associated reasoning and 'fuzzy' decisions.  Crowd sourcing the logic among experts.  The external memory represents a context?  Will this take deep learning beyond?

Google's AI Reasons Its Way Around the London Underground    in Nature

Artificial-intelligence systems known as neural networks can recognize images, translate languages and even master the ancient game of Go. But their limited ability to represent complex relationships between data or variables has prevented them from conquering tasks that require logic and reasoning. ...

In a paper published in Nature on 12 October, the Google-owned company DeepMind in London reveals that it has taken a step towards overcoming this hurdle by creating a neural network with an external memory. The combination allows the neural network not only to learn, but to use memory to store and recall facts to make inferences like a conventional algorithm. This in turn enables it to tackle problems such as navigating the London Underground without any prior knowledge and solving logic puzzles. Though solving these problems would not be impressive for an algorithm programmed to do so, the hybrid system manages to accomplish this without any predefined rules.

Although the approach is not entirely new — DeepMind itself reported attempting a similar feat in a preprint in 2014 — “the progress made in this paper is remarkable”, says Yoshua Bengio, a computer scientist at the University of Montreal in Canada. .... "

Executives and Behavioral Science

Good post, makes sense, but always test the assumptions and the operational results.

Why executives should be interested in behavioural science  by John Aves  

In my last post I looked at the way in which Ikea, whether they knew it or not, had drawn heavily on behavioural science in the design of their stores. Here I look in more detail at the lessons that, I believe, should be of interest to anyone responsible for the design and the day-to-day management of the customer experience.  ... " 

Dealing with Very Large Networks

Architectures and size.   With some lessons from Google:

" ... I’m pretty sure that you would agree with me if I told you that your enterprise network will just be getting bigger and bigger over time. As the person with the CIO job, it’s going to be your job to find ways for the company to keep building out its network without going broke. Got any ideas on how to go about doing this?  ... " 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Salesforce Acquisitions for Data and Analytics

Interesting list, speculation of course, but the whys are interesting.  In particular for companies that already deal with large amounts of data, its acquisition, analytics and delivery for business value. Not included,  Linkedin, whose acquisition by Microsoft that Salesforce has been objecting to.

Salesforce Could Be Eyeing These 8 Companies  By Tess Townsend, Staff reporter, Inc.com 

Leaked slides published by the Wall Street Journal reveal a list of companies Salesforce may have interest in acquiring. These eight companies haven't been ruled out.  ... " 

Changes in the Rules of Retailing

In Knowledge@Wharton:

How Target and Amazon Are Changing the Rules of Retailing
Wharton's Peter Fader and Syracuse's Amanda Nicholson discuss recent moves by Target and Amazon. ..." 

The retail business is witnessing two potentially game-changing strategies: Retail chain Target is opening smaller stores in urban locations to attract younger customers, betting big on that “flexible-format,” as is apparent from a Manhattan store opening announcement in October. Also diversifying its mix is online retailer Amazon, which plans to expand its grocery business with convenience stores and curbside pickups, according to an October 12 Wall Street Journal report. .... 

Target’s move could turn out to be a brainwave that attracts more than just millennials living in urban America, according to Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader. The smaller stores could also occasionally send those same customers to larger Target locations in suburban malls for larger shipping trips, and attract suburbanites who work in cities to drop by the downtown Targets on their drive back home, he says. ... " 

Omnidirectional Mobile Robotics

On the Ball: Omnidirectional Mobile Robot has just two moving parts.  Good play for simplicity.

From CMU:
Spherical Induction Motor Eliminates Robot’s Mechanical Drive System
By Byron Spice

More than a decade ago, Ralph Hollis invented the ballbot, an elegantly simple robot whose tall, thin body glides atop a sphere slightly smaller than a bowling ball. The latest version, called SIMbot, has an equally elegant motor with just one moving part: the ball. ... " 

Microsoft Slack Competitor via Skype?

 A Microsoft Slack Competitor via Skype?

Might Microsoft show off its Slack competitor at November 2 event?
Microsoft is planning to talk up team collaboration technologies at a November 2, 2016, event in New York City. Maybe we'll see the beta of Skype Teams launch then, too.  ... "   By Mary Jo Foley

Follow Mary Jo's Foley's ZDnet Microsoft blog for more on this.

With bot infrastructure to compete with Google Allo for the workplace?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

MicroStrategy Desktop Now Free

Examined MicroStrategy for the enterprise some time ago, and found it to be very good.  Nice to see this added to the growing free BI viz options.  For students or the small business especially.  Worth a look.  Plan to try the R integration.

MicroStrategy Desktop BI software now free
BI vendor MicroStrategy said today that its Desktop software is now free, adding to the affordable self-service BI landscape that includes Tableau Public, Microsoft Power BI and others. MicroStrategy Desktop 10.5 is available for download at https://www.microstrategy.com/us/desktop.

Customers who currently use MicroStrategy Web "can seamlessley connect MicroStrategy Desktop to their existing projects," the company said in its announcement. "Additionally, by downloading their dashboards from the server to MicroStrategy Desktop, MicroStrategy Web users can work locally and offline." MicroStrategy Web is still a paid product.  .... "

 ... The desktop version of the software can connect to multiple types of data sources from spreadsheets to Hadoop for data visualization, including some GIS capabilities from Esri. There's also an add-on R Integration Pack. .. ." 

Microsoft Announces Speech Recognition Breakthrough

Continued advances in Cognitive interaction.  While speech recognition is good today,  making it better will remove one barrier to interacting nimbly with spoken language.  'Understanding' semantically, with common sense implied,  is still not easy.

In SiliconAngle: 
In an announcement that could be the death knell for stenographers everywhere, Microsoft Corp says that it has made a major breakthrough in the field of speech recognition. According to the company, it has developed an artificial intelligence that is capable of understanding conversational speech at a rate comparable to real humans.  

 In a research paper published through Cornell University on Monday, Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research team outlined the test they used to determine the effectiveness of their new system. According to the researchers, they tested their AI with the NIST 2000, an evaluation created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that is specifically designed to determine the accuracy of speech recognition software. ... " 

Digital Investment Portfolios

Makes sense to think of this as a portfolio analysis.   Which leads to thinking about how their business value can be measured.   ROI is notoriously difficult to estimate for emerging technology. Risk analysis, too, should be folded into this kind of analysis.  Good piece.

A Tool for Balancing Your Company’s Digital Investments  by Joe Peppard.  In the HBR: 

How does your organization manage the money it spends on digital? One surprising finding of my research is that most do not distinguish between different types of digital investments, treating all in a similar way. This situation exists because, believe it or not, a lot of organizations lack any mechanisms to help them actively manage the evaluation, selection, monitoring, and adjustment of digital investments to achieve clearly defined business results while meeting clear risk and return expectations.

In essence, digital investments should be planned and managed according to their current and future contribution to business performance. Just think about it: Not all digital investments make a similar contribution to achieving business results. For example, some may provide a source of competitive differentiation like the investment that German manufacturer Bosch is making in its internet of things (IoT) data platform. Others are essential to running the existing business but don’t necessarily provide a competitive advantage. A retailer’s point of sale (POS) system falls into that category.  .. " 

Towards AI Best Practices

Industry Leaders Establish Partnership on AI Best Practices

 .... 28 Sep 2016: Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft today announced that they will create a non-profit organization that will work to advance public understanding of artificial intelligence technologies (AI) and formulate best practices on the challenges and opportunities within the field. Academics, non-profits, and specialists in policy and ethics will be invited to join the Board of the organization, named the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society (Partnership on AI). .... " 

Tim Cook Talks Apple AI Plans

Clear to be a major player simply because it owns such a large part of the infrastructure that will provide data to AI systems.    Some indications of their becoming more open, which may help.   As expected, their views are grand, broad, but with few details to actually consider. Makes caution statements about hype, which is good.

CW on Tim Cook talk.

The Evolution of Selling Propositions

Term new to me, but like in many systems, we implemented early simple versions.

What Is a Meta-DSP and Why Should Advertisers Care?  By Chris Dobson.  

  As Landscape Shifts, CRM Agencies Partner With Marketing Tech Firms
Over the last 18 months, the term meta-DSP has become more widely used, but not necessarily understood. Forrester defines meta-DSPs as "ad tech platforms that have built a software layer on top of demand side platforms [DSPs] to centrally manage and operationalize campaign design, trafficking, tracking, and reporting across the DSPs it operates, with a high degree of automation."

Many solution providers have the same claims when it comes to technology, saying they have a real-time system that works across multiple DSPs. So what do marketers need to know about this advertising model and how can you spot the difference between a real meta-DSP and a fake one? ... " 

Businesses investing in AI

Gartner: A.I. to become a top business investment priority
Analysts make subtle point about the potential of these systems to respond in unexpected ways ... "

Such systems are still not off the shelf, and I believe the investments will still be cautious.   They will also be expensive.  This also all depends too on the definition of AI.  Small implementations are becoming common.  Even including claims of intelligence.  Also the comment on possible 'unexpected results', points to the fact that measurement of these results will be crucial, and thus need to be  closely connected to business systems.  Also a challenge to most businesses.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Skipflag Rover

Furthers look at workplace bots.

What would you first want from a workplace conversation bot?  Reminders of how the current conversation relates to the knowledge derived from previous conversations, documents and analyses. Internal and external.

We looked at systems (bots)  that would watch while one developed a document, searched in wikis and other resources, and suggested and filled in links to past knowledge.  Is such straightforward search enough?  Perhaps best linked to a knowledge graph.  With deeper knowledge of natural language and context.

See work by  Skipflag   

" ... Turning conversations into knowledge ... 

Tired of sifting through information at work? .... 
Rover automatically discovers and organizes what you need to know. ... 
SkipFlag is using machine intelligence to build the knowledge graph for teams. Our software understands the people, projects, and topics in your company, organizing and connecting the dots to proactively keep you up to date. Join our waitlist at http://skipflag.com "   .... '

On Workplace Bots

Interesting on state of the art.   Slackbots and beyond

Jassim Latif on workplace bots
The O’Reilly Bots Podcast: Bots that can respond to groups of users.
By Jon Bruner

AI Courseware from MIT

Via O'Reilly,   ... 22 full-length lecture videos from MIT's OpenCourseWare AI course... "     MIT has been known to produce quality, free, technical courseware for a long time.  Worth looking at selectively.  These address the fundamentals of key component services,  implementing in practice is a different thing.

Useful Excel Add-ins for Analytics

I have been brought in to clean up after the use of Excel for data storage and analysis.  Still, it is unavoidable to address it's use, especially, but not limited to the small business.  Here from DSC, a look at useful add-ins to Excel for analytical methods.  Some very powerful, that you should know about.    Regardless, I would always examine the consequences of long term use of Excel for any production-style use.

Brand as last Step in Customer Journey

Think with Google presents an interesting and fundamental view of brand in the customer journey.

Graph Processing

Silicon Angle mentions Neo4j and what they are calling graph processing.  Good to understand.   Will be looking  at the reported update.  See their introductory piece.  Most interested in how this improves the use of data by analytics.

What you missed in Big Data: graph processing and machine learning   by Maria Deutscher

Most traditional data management products aren’t equipped to handle the increasingly complex and diverse information that is flowing into the corporate network these days. As a result, organizations are turning to new solutions like Neo4j. The widely used graph store, which sets itself apart by providing the ability to easily log the relationships among records, received a major update last week that promises to streamline large-scale analytics initiatives. ... " 

See also this piece by Jim Webber on the universality of the graph space.   Nicely done.

Top AI Companies

Useful list of companies playing in the space at a number of levels.   Considerable variations.  Tools, systems, platforms, research.   How much is really off the shelf, can be fit into specific business needs? Costs are still high.

Top 20 Artificial Intelligence Companies
These artificial intelligence companies are advancing this emerging tech through myriad variations on AI systems. .... " 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Graph Data Modeling Transforming Concept Maps to IT solution models

Just brought to my attention,  good thought to consider the conversion to real value.  

Graph Data Modeling: Transforming Concept Maps to IT solution models

by Chief Data Warehouse Architect at SimCorp,Thomas Frisendal

I would like to turn your attention to my new book, Graph Data Modeling. It is a sequel to my first book in the sense that the first one was business-facing, whereas the second takes the business concept models and transform them into IT solution models, which subsequently can be physically implemented on a variety of data stores and databases. ... 

I have an accompanying website for the book here: www.graphdatamodeling.com     .... " 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Analogous Search Leading to Intelligence?

Have always been interested in how analogy can be used, and how it can be used to convince.   Much used in advertising and marketing. Certainly something we do as part of what we call intelligence. Now think if this as a way of manipulating Google's Knowledge Graph.  Look at 'found in related search'.   In Google Operating System.  Makes me think about alternate kinds of search among stored concepts.  How might these include analogy relationships?

Cyber Risk Disclosure

Cyber Risk Disclosure

No secret that this has become very serious.  Now to what degree can we measure the risk involved, given the evolution of methods involved for protection and breach?

Cyber Risk Disclosure - Who Cares?  In Linkedin. 
#Georgetown Professor Gilles Hilary and his research team have released an excellent study on the #materiality of #cyber breach #disclosures. A must read for any #reputation practitioner, #investor or #regulator.

Cyber-risk Disclosure - Who cares?
Is a cyber breach or the lack of disclosure of a cyber breach material?  .... " 

Delivery Bots to Soon Test in DC

With considerable advantages over drones in specific contexts.   Likely to become common in city scapes.   In CWorld:

Autonomous delivery bots will soon stroll D.C. streets
The pilot delivery program is slated to begin sometime in the next 4-6 weeks.  ,,, "   

On an Experimental UX for AI Assistants

In Medium.      Contextual Bubbles ...

" ... At Snips, we have spent the past year building technologies for assistants, from analyzing your location patterns to extracting relevant stuff from your email and chat messages. But we don’t want to be just a technology company. We want to build products on top of our technology, simplifying the way we interact with our devices on a daily basis.

Compared to product categories like calendars or photo-sharing apps, assistants are relatively new. As such, designers around the world have been experimenting with various ideas, from bots to voice assistants, proactive suggestions or physical devices.  ... "

Productivity at Wal-Mart

In Investors.com. New Innovation for productivity at Wal-Mart.

How Wal-Mart May Revive U.S. Productivity — And Its Own Fortunes by Jed Graham

Wal-Mart brought back its Smiley icon this year as the mark of its low-price deals. Now it hopes to revive its longtime status as a technology innovator and productivity leader by deploying new apps, bar codes and drones.  ... 

A future with slow-growing productivity — and by extension, slow-growing incomes — seems close to becoming conventional wisdom. But the strides that Wal-Mart (WMT) is making with technology that streamlines everything from tracking inventory to simplifying check-out suggest a brighter outlook.

The retail giant was considered a prime force behind the last productivity boom (think bar codes, scanners and retailer-supplier data links) and the subsequent productivity bust (heavier reliance on temps and part-time workers come to mind).    .... " 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Data Science for an Internet of Things

More extracts form the Open Gardens blog by Ajit.   Following now.

Creating an open methodology for Internet of Things (IoT) Analytics: Data science for Internet of Things  January, 2016 By Ajit.

A methodology for solving problems with DataScience for Internet of Things  July 21, 2016 By ajit

Useful, largely nontechnical views of enterprise driven issues in delivering data science.

Target Tests Vertical Farms in/on Stores

Interesting play that uses existing real estate footprints.  Attract new consumers.  Place to test other technologies like drones and robotics to test sensor and labor alternatives?

Target to test vertical farms in stores  Retailwire, discussion. by Tom Ryan

Target is looking to shorten the distance from farm to plate with a planned test of vertical farms, an agricultural technique that involves growing plants and vegetables indoors in climatized conditions.

The initiative, to take place within select U.S. stores, is part of ongoing research and development being pursued by Target’s Food + Future CoLab, a collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and Ideo launched last November that has been exploring urban farming, food transparency and food innovation.

According to Business Insider, tests of the vertical farms could begin in spring 2017. If the trials succeed, Target’s stores will likely be filled with growing leafy greens, the most common stock for vertical farming at present. Potatoes, beetroot and zucchini could potentially be made available as well. MIT could give Target access to ancient seeds for rare tomatoes or peppers. .... " 

McKinsey Surveys the Gig Economy

McKinsey via surveys and useful interpretation and advice for our 'industry'.

Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy

By James Manyika, Susan Lund, Jacques Bughin, Kelsey Robinson, Jan Mischke, and Deepa Mahajan 

The McKinsey Global Institute examines all the ways people are earning income, as well as the challenges independent work presents.

Working nine to five for a single employer bears little resemblance to the way a substantial share of the workforce makes a living today. Millions of people assemble various income streams and work independently, rather than in structured payroll jobs. This is hardly a new phenomenon, yet it has never been well measured in official statistics—and the resulting data gaps prevent a clear view of a large share of labor-market activity.  ... " 

Evolving CRISP-DM

We examined, but never formally used Crisp-DM.  ( Cross Industry Standard Process for Data Mining ) Even if you do not use it formally, its worth looking at as a checklist of considerations for analytics process oriented applications.  In this piece, it is looked at for application to Internet of things analytics.    Considering its test for a related applications.

(Update)   See also ASUM-DM, a further extension of CRISP-DM, that I am now examining.   More description and discussion of that here.

Quantum Problems and Grocery

Interesting because we looked at potential problems for quantum, and very combinatorial problems are there.  But not, practically,  delivery routing.   Which by its nature is done well enough without it.

At the bleeding edge of AI: Quantum grocery picking and transfer learning
Computer vision, neural nets, and deep learning are hot topics at UK R&D centres.
by Bob Dormon

Don’t laugh, but there may come a time when quantum computers are sorting out your grocery deliveries, and if Paul Clarke, CTO of the online food store Ocado is right, it could be sooner than you think.

In an interview with Ars,  Clarke revealed his interest in quantum computing to solve the huge mathematical problems that surround automating delivery services. In theory, quantum computing is well suited to probabilistic tasks and will outperform classical computing platforms in this area… just not yet.

Even so, a future move from a binary to a quantum method, while complicated, could ultimately optimise vehicle routing tasks, which feature numerous variables. It could also deliver a boost to Ocado’s forthcoming robot grid technology, optimising the 4D (space and time) conundrums that this much-touted but yet-to-be-unveiled system grapples with. ...."

AI That Turns a Body into a Digital Platform

Quite fascinating approach related in engineering.com, with multiple and unexpected uses.

Meet the AI That Turns a Body into a Digital Platform
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on October 14, 2016  

However achingly slow, the bright technological future painted by science fiction is beginning to emerge. Autonomous cars have begun to hit the roads, and friendly artificial intelligence (AI) could represent humanity's first contact with alien life. Not too long from now, we may be able to have our clothes or even prosthetics customfitted through the use of 3D scanning and printing.

One company working to make this last premise a reality is Manhattan-based Body Labs, one of the few firms developing the technology for digitally and accurately representing the human form. Whether it be for designing personally-tailored clothing or realistic virtual reality avatars, Body Labs uses AI and machine learning to “collect, digitize and organize all of the data and information related to human body shape, pose and motion.”

The firm's most recent announcement is for a product called “Red,” which integrates 3D scanning hardware with Body Labs' AI software to optimize the technology for such applications as custom retail, medicine, gaming and animation, and research and development.

The possibilities of the human body as a digital platform are fascinating, but just what that concept entails could use some elucidation. For that reason, ENGINEERING.com spoke with Jon Cilley, director of marketing at Body Labs, to learn more.    .... " 

Meaning of Life without Work

The Singularity University Asks:   What Is the Meaning of Life If Society Doesn’t Need You to Work Anymore?    by David J. Hill   With several people involved that I have worked with on related topics.   " ... Paul Saffo, Jeremy Howard, Neil Jacobstein, and Kathryn Myronuk — explored these topics during the Future of Work panel. The issue at hand: What are people going to do in the face of these disruptive changes? ... " 

Lists in the Virtual Assistant

In general have found the management of shopping, to-do and related lists in virtual assistants to be too primitive for general use.  People naturally think using lists to save and arrange and complete things.  Now word that Echo is integrating several popular list tools, such as Any Do and ToDoist.   The technical approach to integrating the list as a skill via API is described here.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Google's Daydream VR Examined

Hand on look in Engadget.  Inexpensive.  Field of view claimed to be good.  Emerging content.  Only one compatible phone at this time, a key issue?

Google's Daydream View is the VR headset for the masses
This might be the first virtual-reality device that ever oozed style. by Chris Velazco

It's pretty clear by now that virtual reality -- like it or not -- is probably here to stay. The tricky part is getting people to start using these requisite VR headsets on the regular, and Google's approach is equal parts simple and elegant. With a new Pixel phone (or another Daydream-compatible device) and the $80 Daydream View headset, Google might have just cooked up the most comfortable, coolest-looking VR experience out there. ..... " 

The Asimov Institute

Brought to my attention:

Asimov Institute: 

Machine Creativity
We are an artificial intelligence research company that utilizes deep learning technology to develop tools for the creative industry – architects, graphic designers, fashion couturiers, marketeers and music producers. Novelty is becoming a valuable asset in a growing number of industries. Our neural networks generate new products, content, suggestions, styles and ideas. 

We aim to understand how machine learning enables creative potential, and how artificial intelligence can be constrained. Years of academic research and business development have given us a head start in this young and exciting field. We believe that, as machine learning is being used in a growing number of applications, its capacity for thinking outside the box becomes of pivotal importance to businesses and society. ... " 

Robotics Everywhere

Because the seas are much less crowded than the streets, robotics are taking over oceans for a number of purposes.   The air will soon be next.  In Technology Review.

Dishwasher Things Ordering Their Own Detergent

A long time idea often discussed in the enterprise.   And another spin of the IOT. 

In Business Insider:  by Leanna Garfield:  GE's new $1,500 dishwasher automatically orders detergent on Amazon before you run out. .... 

Via Walter Riker. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blockchain Reinventing Organizations

When I first read about these methods, was not expecting that  Blockchain Will Transform And Reinvent Organizations, Ecosystems And Economies - in Forbes  By Shanker Ramamurthy, IBM. Is there anything they won't do?  Read the tag link below.