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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Humans and Machines Are Better When They Team Up

I think we need to consider job displacement and augmentation, they will occur, just like they have always been doing. 

More Evidence that Humans and Machines Are Better When They Team Up
By worrying about job displacement, we might end up missing a huge opportunity for technological amplification. .... "       by Will Knight in Technology Review

Primer on Generative Adversarial Networks

GAN's (Generative Adversarial Networks)  always impressed me as some of the most innovative ways to use neural networks and deep learning.   GAN's were unknown when we first used neural networks to replace statistical methods in retail behavior analysis.   Here a good primer from DSC, using image analysis examples, fairly non technical if you already do data analytics.   Worth knowing the concept, there are lots of ways out there to implement.

A Primer On Generative Adversarial Networks
Guest blog by Keshav Dhandhania and Arash Delijani in DSC

In this article, I’ll talk about Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs for short. GANs are one of the very few machine learning techniques which has given good performance for generative tasks, or more broadly unsupervised learning. In particular, they have given splendid performance for a variety of image generation related tasks. Yann LeCun, one of the forefathers of deep learning, has called them “the best idea in machine learning in the last 10 years”. Most importantly, the core conceptual ideas associated with a GAN are quite simple to understand (and in-fact, you should have a good idea about them by the time you finish reading this article).

In this article, we’ll explain GANs by applying them to the task of generating images. The following is the outline of this article

A brief review of Deep Learning
The image generation problem
Key issue in generative tasks
Generative Adversarial Networks
Further reading
Conclusion .... " 

Dolphins Speak

Efforts like this could tell us if there are other ways to efficiently store knowledge and process.

Scientists use artificial intelligence to eavesdrop on dolphins
Algorithm enables research team to sift through millions of echolocation clicks made by marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico  ....  "

by Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent 

Top Consumer Goods Companies

Top 100 Consumer Goods Companies 2017
By CGT Staff - 12/27/2017

How tough is the consumer goods market these days? Almost one-third of the world’s largest public consumer goods companies experienced sales declines in 2016. Another 25 leading companies posted growth of 2.0% or less.

That means the annual letter to shareholders didn’t deliver much in the way of good financial news at more than half of the companies listed in CGT’s "Top 100 Consumer Goods Companies" for 2017.
These decidedly disappointing results confirm the research at IDC Manufacturing Insights, which finds that only 3.0% of the $35 billion in net growth in the consumer goods industry over the last three years has come from traditional, large enterprise players.  .... "

I have worked directly for or with projects for several of the top 5.  - Franz

Saturday, December 30, 2017

AI Report Card from the Verge

Nicely done, non-technical view of the condition of AI circa 2017.   Covering many points I would also make.  AI is not only about machine learning,  a solution to difficult statistical pattern recognition problems, it is about how well we can deliver intelligent cognitive task solutions to specific contexts.  Like the home, industry, vehicles, supply chains, retail, healthcare and others.   In other words, how can AI systems do what humans can do?

The Verge overview covers many things I have covered here, often quoting their reporting  Also what I have done in a number of consulting projects over many years.   Great progress, but still a long way to go.

Free Data Science eBooks

Spring. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Everything’s blooming. And, of course, people want free ebooks. With that in mind, here's a list of 10 free machine learning and data science titles to get your spring reading started right.  ...

By Matthew Mayo, in KDnuggets: 

What better way to enjoy this spring weather than with some free machine learning and data science ebooks? Right? Right? ... 

Here is a quick collection of such books to start your fair weather study off on the right foot. The list begins with a base of statistics, moves on to machine learning foundations, progresses to a few bigger picture titles, has a quick look at an advanced topic or 2, and ends off with something that brings it all together. A mix of classic and contemporary titles, hopefully you find something new (to you) and of interest here. .... " 

Keeping Your Face off the Internet

How can you keep your face off the net, if you are are already actively online?  This souds like a challenge.   Intriguing question.

The man who can't face the internet   By Jane Wakefield on the BBC

Earlier this month, Facebook announced it would be using facial recognition to let users know every time a photo of them had been uploaded to the site.

Such a feature would be extremely useful to one man - public-relations professional Jonathan Hirshon, who has managed to stay anonymous on the social network for the past 20 years.

He has more than 3,000 friends on Facebook and regularly updates his profile with personal information - where he is going on holiday, what he has cooked for dinner and the state of his health.

But what he has never shared on the social network, or anywhere else online, is a picture of himself..... " 

Applying AI to Mobile Apps

How to find the best ways of Applying Artificial Intelligence in Mobile Applications    By Ritesh Mehta in CustomerThink

While mobile applications continue to be the main focus for an organization, there is a growing interest in AI or artificial intelligence technologies. Gartner has predicted that intelligent applications would be one of the top strategic trends this year and indeed it is. When an application claims to be powered by AI, it feels as if we are in the future. Mobile app development services today are using artificial intelligences to develop mobile applications. ... "

Digital Effect

Interesting results from an executive survey regarding the value of digital.  I would assume this is quite obvious for readers here, but good relative statistics.

The digital effect
What does the digitization of industries mean for future revenue and profit growth? McKinsey put that question to 2,135 global executives in a survey late last year. The findings are bad news for average companies.  .... "

A Look at VR in 2017

The Verge does a good job at reviewing VR in the past year.  I have covered this for decades for real applications.    Still examining many possibilities.  Good view:

The Verge 2017 tech report card: Virtual reality
By Adi Robertson @thedextriarchy 

I wouldn’t blame you for tuning out VR news in 2017. There was no string of huge hardware releases, like last year’s Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. The medium’s limits became clearer. For some people, VR reached a trough of irrelevance — stories about it were no longer conceptually fresh and fascinating, but they weren’t relevant to daily life yet, either.

Despite this, 2017 laid exciting groundwork for VR’s future. The biggest advance was arguably Windows Mixed Reality: a VR platform built into Microsoft’s Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, supporting headsets that don’t need external cameras or markers. Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers still aren’t very comfortable or stylish. But their tracking feels remarkably smooth and accurate, and setup is easy — you can basically just plug the headset into a computer and get started. .... "

Friday, December 29, 2017

Harnessing Micro Moments for Learning

Always thought there was value to using all that wasted time.  But how to do it well?  A sort of crowd sourcing of our leftover time for value.  Can we assemble small time segments to produce value?   And assign the time to many tasks we can use to solve problems?   Want to see where this goes.   We worked with CSAIL long ago.

Learn a language while you wait for WiFi
CSAIL tool integrates with email and web browsers to harness micro-moments
By Rachel Gordon | CSAIL 

Hyper-connectivity has changed the way we communicate, wait, and productively use our time. Even in a world of 5G wireless and “instant” messaging, there are countless moments throughout the day when we’re waiting for messages, texts, and Snapchats to refresh. But our frustrations with waiting a few extra seconds for our emails to push through doesn’t mean we have to simply stand by.
To help us make the most of these “micro-moments,” researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a series of apps called “WaitSuite” that test you on vocabulary words during idle moments, like when you’re waiting for an instant message or for your phone to connect to WiFi. .... " 

Recalculating Patterns in Real Time

Intriguing approach for constantly changing time series data.

Novel Algorithm Enables Statistical Analysis of Time Series Data 

MIT News  By Sara Cody

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed state-space multitaper time-frequency analysis (SS-MT), a unique algorithm they say delivers time series dataset analysis in real time. The team notes SS-MT enables scientists to work in a more informed manner with large, nonstationary datasets so they can not only measure the fluid properties of data but also make formal statistical comparisons between arbitrary data segments. "The algorithm functions similarly to the way a [global-positioning system] calculates your route when driving," says MIT professor Emery Brown. The team tested SS-MT by first analyzing electroencephalogram readings from patients receiving general anesthesia for surgery. The program produced a de-noised spectrogram defining changes in power across frequencies over time, and the researchers also applied SS-MT's inference paradigm to compare different levels of unconsciousness in terms of the differences in the spectral properties of these behavioral states. "The SS-MT analysis produces cleaner, sharper spectrograms," Brown says.  .... "

Google Creates Human Voices

Have been hearing computer voices regularly for several years now with assistants, and note their ability to evoke a personality.   Previous to that had seen the testing of voice generation systems for warnings in a military system,  with no attempt to create any personality,  just a robotic voice.   This piece points to an article in Quartz with more detail.

Google's Voice-Generating Artificial Intelligence Now Indistinguishable From Humans

Of use to marketers, customer service reps - and politicians - the new capability will make it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between human and technologically generated 'voices.'

The larger question is whether, at this stage, consumers will care. JL  ... " 

Targeting Marketing at Overstock

Admit have not looked at or used Overstock for some time.  Nice example of business model with analytics in Datanami:

Inside Overstock’s One-to-One Marketing Machine  By Alex Woodie

Like many online retailers, Overstock closely tracks the behavior of visitors on its site. But transforming all those individual page views and clicks into actual revenue is easier said than done. The company recently discussed with Datanami how it overcame challenges in building its own one-to-one marketing analytics system, and what results it’s delivered this year.

Overstock emerged from the wreckage of the first dot-com boom with a winning business plan: sell the excess merchandise of failed retail outfits at below-wholesale levels, build a loyal following, rinse, and repeat. Now nearly two decades in, Overstock has expanded to sell new products, and it all adds up to nearly $2 billion in revenue annually. ...  "

Nudging Robotics

Training and adjusting their training is a key issue.

Researchers develop a way to train robots with just a gentle nudge

Their algorithms allow robots to permanently adjust their trajectories with a single push.

By Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear in Engadget

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Watson Assistant Introduction

I was invited to be a beta developer in this space.  Here IBM competes with Amazon, Apple and Google for a place in adaptable, cognitive, skills based systems.    I like in particular that IBM is emphasizing how all these systems will be IoT style applications and plug into devices that need their capabilities.  I in particular will be emphasizing process improvement and optimization applications.  And opening the development of these skills to anyone.   Here is a starting introduction:

Watson Assistant Builder

Developer Docs for the Watson Assistant Builder

What is the Watson Assistant?
Watson Assistant is a technology that was designed to create personalized and engaging experiences with digital assistants for consumers. It is designed to be easily customizable and integrated into devices such as mobile apps, cars, rooms, and other connected objects. It understands context from history and real world sources to enable a delightful conversation and truly helpful recommendations. ...  "

More on classification of assistants and upcoming public presentations .... 

Google, Amazon and Facebook have Changed B2B Marketing

Quite a good piece, read the whole thing for useful details about how different companies have addressed B2B marketing with new tools and contextual data. 

How Google, Amazon and Facebook have changed B2B Marketing
 by Glenn Gow in Chief Marketer

Google, Amazon and Facebook have changed buyer expectations across the globe—not just in the B2C world, but in the B2B world as well. Nowadays, when a buyer interacts with a company, they expect that company to know something about them and help them find and buy the right solution to their problem.

The classic example is Amazon’s “customers who bought this item also bought” section and how Amazon makes additional purchase recommendations to you based on your prior behavior.

Google does something similar by monitoring your past search behaviors and what they know about you from this behavior. When you conduct a search on a phrase—say, “fun things to do in San Francisco”—you get a highly customized set of results that will be completely different from the results another person gets. Google customizes the results based on everything they know about you…and they know a lot. ..... " 

Google Says it Won't Scrape

Thinking of the full implications of this.

Google will continue to let sites opt out of showing in search results

They can legally scrape those sites now, but the tech titan promises that it won't.    By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon in Engadget

Google swears it won't start scraping websites that previously opted out of web crawling just because it can now legally go back to its old ways. Back in 2012, the tech titan promised to change its practices in several areas to settle an antitrust investigation by the FTC. Those changes include removing AdWords restrictions that made it difficult for advertisers to launch multi-platform campaigns, as well as providing websites a mechanism to opt out of having their content crawled and displayed on search results. .... " 

full letter to the FTC  

A look at AI Startups

The list of startups is interesting because it shows development directions.  But it is also dependent on the definition of 'AI', and context of applications.

Artificial Intelligence Startups Redefining Industries in CBInsights.

The 100 startups on our list have raised $11.7B in aggregate funding across 367 deals.

Today, CB Insights unveiled the second annual AI 100 —  a list of 100 of the most promising private companies applying artificial intelligence algorithms across 25+ industries, from healthcare to cybersecurity — at the A-Ha! conference in San Francisco.

The companies were selected from a pool of 2,000+ startups based on several criteria, including investor profile, tech innovation, team strength, patent activity, mosaic score, funding history, valuation, and business model.

The market map below categorizes the AI 100 companies based on their industry focus. .... " 

Cognitive Services, Intelligent Chatbots call for Papers

Brought to my attention by Amit Sheth,   LexisNexis Ohio Eminent Scholar

Cognitive Services and Intelligent Chatbots

Final submissions due: 01 May 2018, Publication issue: March/April 2019

Please email the guest editors a brief description of the article you plan to submit by 01 April 2018.

Guest Editors: Amit Sheth (Kno.e.sis-Wright State University), Arun Iyengar (IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center), Paul Tepper (Nuance Communications) (ic2-2019@computer.org)

Call for Papers

Online cognitive services are services (usually Web/cloud hosted) that broadly speaking incorporate intelligence in services using AI including Knowledge Graph, NLP and Machine Learning (ML) techniques.  For example, IBM Watson Cognitive Services can understand natural language, analyze the sentiment in text, recognize the content of images, convert text to speech and vice versa, identify tones present in text, convert documents to different formats, and perform several other intelligent actions. Similarly, Microsoft Cognitive Services are APIs that extract key phrases and sentiment from text, convert voice to text, describe objects in images and video, understand intent and entities in natural language and perform several other things. 

A close cousin that incorporates intelligent behavior while interacting with humans are intelligent chatbots, digital assistants, and conversational systems.  Increasingly AI, including semantic, cognitive and perceptual computing techniques, along with ML and NLU, NLP and NLG, are used to provide better context for richer and more natural interactions. The special issue is open to applications and use cases in any domain. Examples in the health domain include emotionally intelligent cognitive assistants to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and Medical chatbots that deal with a specific domain such as health (e.g., Your.MD and many others), or even specialize on a specific subdomain incorporating deeper knowledge, such as specializing in a specific disease (e.g., mental health counsellor).

This special issue seeks papers from both industry and academia that describe all aspects of cognitive services and intelligent chatbots.  Relevant topics include but are not limited to: .....   (See link above for complete statement and submission addresses ) 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Blockchain Based Electronic Marketplaces

Intriguing application idea.    Inevitable managing control?

Decentralized Blockchain-Based Electronic Marketplaces  By Hemang Subramanian ,   Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 1, Pages 78-84 .... 

Hemang Subramanian discusses "Decentralized Blockchain-based E-Marketplaces"  Video: https://vimeo.com/245228182


E-commerce marketplaces—whether business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B)—are examples of a two-sided market.6,19 Each side involves networks of participants. Network effects—the incremental value added by each new participant—play the dominating technological role in such markets. Over time, network effects inevitably yield a monopoly in which a single e-commerce firm manages the entire marketplace   .... " 

Why Alexa was a Hit

Good thoughts on how to make a novel consumer product sell.

Why Amazon Alexa Is Such a Hit This Holiday Season
Innovation, streamlined services, a product that works. Amazon is killing it. Are you doing the same? ... 

By John Brandon in Inc.

(Update)  Also in Adage on the competition between Amazon and Google.

In-Car Assistants for Hyundai, Kia

More indication that the new year will feature automotive assistance, with increasing sophistication as to automotive context.   Will be testing.

Hyundai and Kia will offer AI assistants in 2019 cars
You'll see the first hints of it in early 2018.

Jon Fingas, @jonfingasin in Engadget

Hyundai and Kia both have reputations as early adopters of in-car tech, and that's truer than ever now that voice assistants are becoming a practical reality on the road. The Korean automakers have revealed that they plan to include AI assistants in their new cars starting from 2019, with every vehicle being 'connected' by 2025. As Hyundai explained, they've been working with SoundHound to create an Intelligent Personal Agent (based on Houndify) that both makes proactive suggestions (such as reminding you of a meeting) and offers remote control of both your car and your home.

This sounds a whole lot like what other voice assistants do, but the car brands are counting on support for "multiple-command recognition" as the ace up their sleeve. If you tell your car to check the weather and turn on the lights at the same time, it'll do both instead of scratching its head like so many other AI helpers.  .... " 

Index of my work on assistants.

Will Tech Dominate Retail?

Debate and Discussion ....

BrainTrust throwdown: Is it inevitable that tech companies will dominate retail?   by Rick Moss in Retailwire

From its origins with the Dutch West India Company through numerous evolutions, commerce is the engine that has driven the global prominence of the U.S. economy. Still, the e-commerce revolution that caught on in the late 1990’s is so fundamentally different that the prior 400 years of traditional retail can be viewed as a prelude to the empowered, connected consumer age we exist in. We’re in the midst of a hi-tech revolution with no limits in sight.

We asked two of our BrainTrust panelists, Ken Lonyai and Ryan Mathews, to argue for and against the following premise: 

The new model for retail, as exemplified by Amazon, is built on mastery of data, AI and IT services. Legacy retail companies can’t possibly make a transition to this type of data-first company. Therefore, possibly within the next decade, big retail will be entirely dominated by tech companies. .... " 

Benchmarking AI Performance

Worth while thoughts in the Cisco Blog:

Towards an industry standard for benchmarking AI

 In tandem with this transformative process is the need for industry standards for benchmarking hardware and software systems and how they handle different workloads. These standards are used for comparison between systems, and more importantly, create benchmarks that are used to drive innovation, fueling an iterative process resulting in higher performing systems at lower cost and more efficient energy usage. The unique qualities of AI introduce new challenges, in particular, how to characterize performance and total cost of ownership (TCO). As such, it is critical for organizations like the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TCP) to develop standards that can be used by vendors, customers and researchers. ... 

 .... To this end, the TPC has announced the formation of a new Working Group (TPC-AI), and I am honored to have been elected chairman. The TPC-AI Working Group is tasked with developing industry standard benchmarks for both hardware and software platforms associated with running Artificial Intelligence based workloads. We will be working to define a level playing field for vendors, identify the areas with the greatest potential for improvement through performance optimization, and understand what are the key factors for customers when making their purchase decisions.

I encourage organizations that are interested in participating in the benchmarking development process to join the TPC.

Thank you,
  (Chairman, TPC AI)     Raghunath Nambiar ...

Path to Better Decision Making

Highly visual piece from McKinsey.  I like the visual,  yet still precise views here.  Not an infographic, which can be sloppy.

The path to better decisions means untangling the crossed web of accountability, one decision at a time.  .... "

Simulators for Quantum Computing

Simulators allow us to guide the future of direction of research for more universal solutions.

Two New Simulators Tease Future of Quantum Computing   By Jeremy Hsu

A universal quantum computer capable of outperforming today’s classical computers in solving many different problems remains the biggest future prize for many engineers and researchers. One possible path toward that goal comes from two U.S. research groups that have demonstrated some of the largest quantum simulators ever built. Such specialized devices are much less versatile than the vision for universal quantum computers, but share architectural similarities that could pave the way for the latter.

Quantum simulators are designed to tackle very specific problems in scientific fields such as high-energy physics and chemistry. These devices have mostly consisted of small arrays of five or 10 quantum bits (qubits) that can each represent multiple states of information simultaneously. In recent work, one research group used lasers as optical tweezers to assemble a 51-qubit array of so-called Rydberg atoms. A second group showed how to build a 53-qubit “trapped ion” device using electric fields to control a string of charged atoms.  .... " 

Library of Congress Stops Archiving all Tweets

The LOC started archiving tweets in 2006, but has now announced it will do so only very selectively,  of historically important material,  starting in the new year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dot Assistants Dominate the Market

Will this mean that Amazon will control the assistant infrastructure, at least in the consumer space?  Again, better skills and improved architecture need to be included.

Amazon’s Echo Dot sales crushed it over the holiday season, says Amazon  in Fastcompany .... 

Amazon smart speakers / assistants hold 76% of the market, 'millions' were sold over the holiday, Google Home at 24% of the market.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Reading on Screens

Scientists say screens hurt our ability to comprehend the information we read  By Luke Dormehl

...  According to a new piece of research coming out of Pennsylvania State University, adult readers who spend a lot of time using electronic devices turn out to be less adept at understanding scientific texts. Compared to folks who read on paper (which, we believe, is a kind of high-res display made out of wood pulp), people who look at screens for hours each day — whether it’s reading articles, texting, or playing games — find that they pick up only short fragments of information, as opposed to incorporating the information in a more thorough manner. .... "

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Balancing Social Media?

Intriguing, but seems this could also be directly misused.

Conflicting Views on Social Media Balanced By an Algorithm
Aalto University

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland and the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy have developed an algorithm that balances information exposure so social media users can be exposed to information from both sides of a discussion. The program uses a greedy algorithm paradigm to find optimal choices at each stage, which works by efficiently selecting a set of influential users who can be convinced to spread information about their viewpoint to the other side. "We use word clouds as a qualitative case study to complement our quantitative results, whereby words in the cloud represent the words found in the users' profiles," says Aalto's Kiran Garimella. He notes the algorithm examines the content of a few influential users to find terms from both sides of a discussion. "Thus, these users can play a significant role in initiating a social debate and help to spread the arguments of one side to the other," Garimella says.  .... "

Google Map's Moat

Google Map's Moat.  Mapping is modeling, for and about a particular context.  So the details and comparison between Apple and Google are fascinating.  Been using both to compare myself, but am not seeing all the details.

How far ahead of Apple Maps is Google Maps?   Cartographer Justin O’Beirne  looks at the details.

Over the past year, we’ve been comparing Google Maps and Apple Maps in New York, San Francisco, and London—but some of the biggest differences are outside of large cities.

Take my childhood neighborhood in rural Illinois. Here the maps are strikingly different, and Apple’s looks empty compared to Google’s: .... "

 " ... Google has gathered so much data, in so many areas, that it’s now crunching it together and creating features that Apple can’t make—surrounding Google Maps with a moat of time. 

It makes you wonder how long back Google was planning all of this—and what it’s planning next.

As we saw earlier, Google seems to have associated its building and place datasets together:

So Google likely knows what’s inside all of the buildings it has extracted. And as Google gets closer and closer to capturing every building in the world, it’s likely that Google will start highlighting / lighting up buildings related to queries and search results.  ...... " 

Leveraging Consumer DNA

Should marketers personalize products using consumers’ DNA?  by Tom Ryan in Retailwire with discussion.

According to a study from the University of South Carolina, marketers will soon be able to derive “hyper-personalized” shopper recommendations from internal biomarkers such as saliva, breath and blood samples.

According to the research, companies are already working to customize product lines such as home-delivered meals and skin care based on analysis of a customer’s DNA sample submitted through an at-home blood test. Additionally, nutrition companies are partnering with firms that produce wearable technologies such as fitness trackers and skin-serve sensory patches to notify users of bodily needs that can be satisfied through the consumption of specific products. RFID tags and quantum ID tags are also expected to support such customization. .... " 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Business History

Video and transcript from Bain:

The prevailing paradigm that has underpinned business for the past 50 years is beginning to shift. Over the next 10 years, we will see the nature of the firm reshaped by the cumulative impact of external and internal forces. .... 

But this change has happened many times before. .... 

Fjord Trends from Accenture

Brought to my attention:

Fjord  Trends  (Design and Innovation from Accenture

A look at what's ahead for the future of business, technology and design.

Physical fights back
Digital has had the limelight long enough — there are two brand experience headliners now. The time has come to blend the digital with the physical. .... "

On the Machines of Wal-Mart

Been following Wal-Mart's tech for many years, worked with them in in the realm of RFID systems and supply chains.   Been reviewing the history.   Much written in this blog, see the tag below.

The Machines of Walmart Have Had a Banner Year In Technology Review.    It has been Walmart’s year of emerging technologies, and so far, it seems to be paying off .... "

AI and Insurance

Some of our earliest work in advanced analytics and AI work dealt closely with risk and thus with elements of insurance.   And then talking to the insurance industry, so this DSC is interesting,  Insurance and risk is all about detecting and using complex patterns. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Disrupts the Traditional Insurance Industry    Posted by Deena Zaidi  in DSC

relying on traditional virtual assistants. But with the advent of improved analytics, insurance technology startups (better known as Insurtech)are paving way for smarter and more innovative platforms.

With strong data analytics, Insurtech startups seem to have no lack of funding. According to a report by KPMG, since 2015 the interest in Insurtech has increased dramatically. The report shows that Insurtech startups attracted more than $1.7 billion worldwide in 2016.   .....  "

And a further look by regional and country participation.

Shazam for Data on Music Behavior

Have been recording my music listening habits via IFTTT,  and smart speakers and then analyzing it over time.   As a means of predictively understanding this over time, interest and context?   Could this mean the creative invention of new music based on demand?  So the acquisition of Shazam by Apple struck a chord in me.  The ability to detect creative context is a way to think about Shazam.

Apple has acquired Shazam
The acquisition could lay the groundwork for new music and AR features. .... 

In ArsTechnica, by Samuel Axon

Friday, December 22, 2017

Future of Retail in China?

Is the future of retailing in the East? The creative drive? The New Customer Experience? Starbucks’ future … appears to be in the East not the West. Why? Starbucks opens a new store every 15 hours in China. And … they are Creating the New Customer Experience … there … not here.  (With video) ... "

Amazon Acquires Blink

Why does Amazon acquire rather than work in collaboration?  Are there particular nuggets of innovation in Blink beyond the obvious?  I have voice driven assistants controlling their use in my smart home.  I have all the functions mentioned,  what will be next?

Amazon acquires smart home startup Blink  by Amaria Deutscher

 Amazon.com Inc. is heading into 2018 with a new weapon to use against the likes of Alphabet Inc.’s Nest in the competitive smart home market.

News broke this morning that the retail giant has acquired Blink Inc., a startup that makes mobile-controlled home monitoring devices. It first rose to prominence in 2014 after raising $1 million on Kickstarter to fund the development of a smart security camera (pictured) with motion detection capabilities. Today, Blink’s product lineup also includes an outdoor model with night vision support and a video doorbell that packs a lens to let the user see who’s knocking. .... " 

(Update)  Maybe this was done to make it easier to get through the door to allow deliveries?

Case for Digital Reinvention

We have seen the start of this digitally driven innovation.   It has been happening for some time.  Good thoughts on its continuation.

The case for digital reinvention
By Jacques Bughin, Laura LaBerge, and Anette Mellby

Digital technology, despite its seeming ubiquity, has only begun to penetrate industries. As it continues its advance, the implications for revenues, profits, and opportunities will be dramatic.

As new markets emerge, profit pools shift, and digital technologies pervade more of everyday life, it’s easy to assume that the economy’s digitization is already far advanced. According to our latest research, however, the forces of digital have yet to become fully mainstream. On average, industries are less than 40 percent digitized, despite the relatively deep penetration of these technologies in media, retail, and high tech. .... " 

Marketing via Augmented Reality

Do such focused AR experiences for purchase work?    Has been driving some interest.

Patrón mixes e-commerce and AR    by Jonathan Gross

When Apple opened up ARKit to developers with the launch of iOS 11 in September, Patrón Tequila was one of the first brands to debut its own augmented reality app created with the technology. Now, Patrón has added the option to purchase to the experience. As of Dec. 14, users can order bottles of Patrón through The Patrón Experience AR app.

Originally, the purpose of the app was to intrigue users by educating them on the history and process of how Patrón makes tequila, not to be a sales channel. In the app, a virtual bartender at the company’s distillery in Mexico gives the history of the brand. But with more than 50,000 views and downloads, Patrón sees the app as a viable way to sell tequila, according to Adrian Parker, vp of marketing at Patrón.  .... " 

Managing Data and Video Content

I just reexamined their online presence.  Join in ....


Easily Manage the Entire Lifecycle of all your Data and Video Content from a Single Platform 

The Intelligent Video & Data Logistics Platform B2B

Middle Market Brands to Create Smarter, Powerful, Premium Content with Ease

Our Clients’ Four Core Experiences .... " 

Assistive Tech Examples

Emphasizing help for the disabled using Emerging Technology:

Assistive tech is progressing faster than ever, and these 7 devices prove it  By Luke Dormehl in DigitalTrends.

" .... when it comes to technology that really changes people’s lives, very little compares to tech that’s designed to help disabled people lead fuller, more active, more independent, or simply more dignified lives. Thanks to advances in robotics, materials engineering, artificial intelligence, and a broad range of other things, assistive tech has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past decade. Here are seven astonishing examples of what we’re talking about: .... " 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Augmenting Human Intelligence

Quite an interesting piece.   Obvious at one level.  Its always about augmenting human intelligence,  at least in any near term view.   So then its about how well you can create the most useful tools.  Yes, it is about reasoning, but also about doing valuable things.  About inserting AI into valuable human process.   That's a challenge in every piece of work I do.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Augment Human Intelligence   (In Distill,Via O'Reilly) 

By creating user interfaces which let us work with the representations inside machine learning models, we can give people new tools for reasoning.

" .... Our essay begins with a survey of recent technical work hinting at artificial intelligence augmentation, including work on generative interfaces – that is, interfaces which can be used to explore and visualize generative machine learning models. Such interfaces develop a kind of cartography of generative models, ways for humans to explore and make meaning from those models, and to incorporate what those models “know” into their creative work.

Our essay is not just a survey of technical work. We believe now is a good time to identify some of the broad, fundamental questions at the foundation of this emerging field. To what extent are these new tools enabling creativity? Can they be used to generate ideas which are truly surprising and new, or are the ideas cliches, based on trivial recombinations of existing ideas? Can such systems be used to develop fundamental new interface primitives? How will those new primitives change and expand the way humans think?  ..... " 

An Era of Personal Drones?

Have been following the evolution of drones for some time,  my son is a pioneer in their use for photography.  Now will it become the case that each of us has a personal drone? To document our lives?  To provide security?  To send on errands?  Acting as flying robots that deal with the third dimension and the outdoors.  In Kickstarter, an example.

Featured Snippets in Google

Is this a challenge to Wikipedia being at the top of many search results?  How we arrange knowledge and its discovery is an important topic.

Improving Search and discovery on Google   By Michael Galvez  in the Google Blog.

Search is not just about answering your questions—it’s also about discovery. We search to explore new topics of interest, to find new angles to ideas or things we think we already know, or even to uncover information that we didn’t even think to ask about.

Over the years, we've developed many features to help you discover more on your journeys through the web, starting with related searches almost 10 years ago, to more recent additions such as related questions (Related questions are labeled “People also ask” in search results). In the last few weeks, we've made three new additions to help you explore further, including expanded Featured Snippets, improved functionality of Knowledge Panels, and suggested content as you search for a particular topic.

Featured Snippets are algorithmically generated highlights of what's available on the web that provide quick, relevant answers for your queries. Today, we've added more images and related searches inside select Featured Snippets to help you learn even more about your topic, or to discover new things related to your interest. ... "

Legos for Creativity

Look at this once for enterprise creativity, but got no buy in.  Still intrigues me as a play-create process.   A Gamification idea with fewer constraints.   Have written about here previously.

Here's How NASA Is Using Legos to Come Up With Ideas (And How You Can Do the Same)
Creative breakthroughs stem from creative processes.  ...
By Melissa Chu ...  Inc Inc." 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Youtube Works on Show

I had noticed a couple of days ago that Google is now again allowing access of Youtube on the Amazon Show.   So the below article starts out being wrong.  That particular feud is over.  But it would make sense to do this,  if only to control the form of the content involved.   If it can attract the wealth of content.

Amazon may be planning a YouTube rival
Its feud with Google could get uglier with the arrival of "Amazontube."
By Saqib Shah, @eightiethmnt

In the midst of Google's YouTube blockade on the Echo Show, Amazon could be mulling its own video platform. Google announced it was removing its app from the e-retail giant's touchscreen-packing Echo earlier this month, with plans to extend the ban to the Fire TV on January 1st. That same day, Amazon filed two trademarks requests with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for something dubbed "Amazontube," and another called "Opentube," as spotted by TV Answer Man.

Beyond their names, the two bear more than a passing resemblance to Google's video powerhouse. In its filings, Amazon describes Amazontube or Opentube as providers of "non-downloadable pre-recorded audio, visual and audiovisual works via wireless networks."    .... " 

LG Renames Appliances by Intelligence: ThinQ

Intriguing marketing spin for intelligent appliances.  Includes list of systems and applications involved.   Note smart home implications and deep learning.    Want to see a broader indication of value proposition by appliance.

LG products powered by A.I. will now be tied together under the new ThinQ brand  By Kris Wouk in DigitalTrends.

You don’t need to be able to predict the future to guess that our coverage of CES 2018 will be dominated by artificial intelligence, and LG is definitely on board. On Tuesday, December 19, LG announced that moving forward, all of its products that use A.I. — from household appliances to TVs — will now be united under the company’s new ThinQ brand.

“Our new ThinQ platform for LG’s intelligent products is the latest way that LG is delivering innovations that make consumers’ lives easier and more enjoyable,” LG Electronics USA vice president of marketing David VanderWaal said in a statement. “LG ThinQ enables deep learning technology and connectivity across household products, delivering even greater capabilities and convenience.” ... " 

Wal-Mart's Personal Shopping Service

Sounds like a powerful idea.  Anything else out there on results of this?

Walmart is developing a personal-shopper service for rich moms — and a store with no cashiers ... This ain’t your grandpa’s Walmart.
By Jason Del Rey in ReCode

When Walmart paid $3 billion for Jet.com and its founder Marc Lore, the promise was that the entrepreneur would help the retailer appeal to new types of customers.

Here’s the next step in that evolution.

A new Walmart subsidiary, called Code Eight, has recently started testing a personal shopping service for “busy NYC moms,” according to multiple sources, with the goal of letting them get product recommendations and make purchases simply through text messaging.  .... " 

McKinsey on Data Monetization

Via a McKinsey Survey.  Analytics means doing things better, faster, cheaper .... so why not?

Fueling growth through data monetization

A new survey finds that many companies are launching data-focused businesses. But few have achieved significant financial impact, which requires the right combination of strategy, culture, and organization.

Results from the newest McKinsey Global Survey on data and analytics indicate that an increasing share of companies is using data and analytics to generate growth.1 Data monetization, as a means of such growth, is still in its early days—though the results suggest that the fastest-growing companies (our high performers) are already ahead of their peers. Respondents at these companies say they are thinking more critically than others about monetizing their data, as well as using data in a greater number of ways to create value for customers and the business.2 They are adding new services to existing offerings, developing new business models, and even directly selling data-based products or utilities. ... " 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Uses of Augmented Reality

Good points in Wired.  Have been searching for the big applications of AR long before modern AR.  Our own experiments first looked at maintenance support in manufacturing plants.  That's still possible, but it still has environmental and operational issues.   The problem of how to wear the augmenting devices comfortably and in social situations is still not solved.   So some of the flash will still occur in the comfort of the home or office, and maybe without very clear business value. 

Augmented Reality's Real Power will come from Substance, not Flash .... 

Mind you, visual learning in AR will explode only if everyday folks can create AR tutorials. Luckily, authoring tools are already on the way. JigSpace, for example, a small Australian startup, is building a platform that allows beginners to snap basic shapes together to make AR objects. ­People will start building augmented how-tos, complete with voice-overs soothingly talking us through the complex stuff. And that will foster new aesthetics—new ways to present imagery intended to float before the eye, instead of the mirror-what-I-do style of YouTube.   .... " 

Examining Digital Transformations

A view of digital transformation in the HBR

What Successful Digital Transformations Have in Common
By Jacques Bughin, Tanguy Catlin

Technological innovations have radically transformed the business landscape in many ways over the last two centuries, from the introduction of steam power to the market conquest of radial-ply tires. Research by McKinsey & Company and the McKinsey Global Institute shows that digitization is having the same radical impact. In particular, our research shows how digitization can significantly hurt incumbent firms in many industries — depleting as much as half the revenue growth and one-third of earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) growth of companies that neglect to embrace digital innovations.

It is not too late for incumbents to reverse the digital curse and re-create a more profitable growth path if they are willing and able to invest more in digital than their peers and take the offensive by reshuffling their activity portfolios and beefing up remaining activities with new business models. On top of that, incumbents would be wise to choose a “platform play” — creating value by intermediating in transactions between other parties, such as suppliers and consumers — because it opens the way to capture more value in disrupted industry chains.  ... " 

Robots Predicting

All business is about prediction.   But prediction also implies you can define well enough the current state .... and can be assured an equivalent context in a future state.  .....

New robots can see into their future
By Brett Israel, Media relations, Berkeley News

UC Berkeley researchers have developed a robotic learning technology that enables robots to imagine the future of their actions so they can figure out how to manipulate objects they have never encountered before. In the future, this technology could help self-driving cars anticipate future events on the road and produce more intelligent robotic assistants in homes, but the initial prototype focuses on learning simple manual skills entirely from autonomous play.

Using this technology, called visual foresight, the robots can predict what their cameras will see if they perform a particular sequence of movements. These robotic imaginations are still relatively simple for now – predictions made only several seconds into the future – but they are enough for the robot to figure out how to move objects around on a table without disturbing obstacles. Crucially, the robot can learn to perform these tasks without any help from humans or prior knowledge about physics, its environment or what the objects are. That’s because the visual imagination is learned entirely from scratch from unattended and unsupervised exploration, where the robot plays with objects on a table. After this play phase, the robot builds a predictive model of the world, and can use this model to manipulate new objects that it has not seen before.  .... "

Conversation Patterns

A scarier yet example of pattern recognition, here in conversation.

AI Can Predict Lasting Relationships Based on How You Speak to Your Partner   The Conversation  by  Ian McLoughlin

Researchers at the University of Southern California trained a machine-learning algorithm to understand the relationship between vocal characteristics of couples in therapy and the eventual outcome of therapy, and the program predicted those outcomes with more accuracy than human psychologists. "The significance [of this experiment] is revealing how much information about our underlying feelings is encoded in the way we speak--some of it completely unknown to us," writes University of Kent professor Ian McLoughlin in the U.K. He notes although the therapy participants were speaking naturally, the algorithmic analysis uncovered insights into their mutual feelings they were inadvertently "leaking" into their speech. "This may be one of the first steps in using computers to determine what we are really thinking or feeling," McLoughlin says. He notes potential applications include computers counseling humans about potential partners, or detecting leanings toward antisocial behavior and other negative tendencies or psychological conditions. .... " 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Statistics on the State of AI Adoption

Nicely done, though this is really about machine learning adoption.  Interesting statistics.  But not about the installation of systems like assistants to augment human beings.  Perhaps machine learning driven, but not necessarily. And the end of the day this is about implementing operational changes.  So this does get back to the fractured meaning of the 'AI' term.

The state of AI adoption
An overview of adoption, and suggestions to companies interested in AI technologies.   By Ben Lorica in O'Reilly

Artificial intelligence (AI) has attracted a lot of media coverage recently, and companies are rushing to figure out how AI technologies will impact them. Much of the coverage is devoted to research breakthroughs or new product offerings. But how are companies integrating AI into their underlying businesses? In this post, we share slides and notes from a talk we gave this past September at the AI Conference in San Francisco, offering an overview of the state of adoption and some suggestions to companies interested in implementing AI technologies .... " 

Assistants Talking Advertising

So how does advertising and marketing ultimately work in a voice driven, intelligent assistant empowered world?    Below Wired piece does a good idea of outlining this, emphasizing what the current leader in the space, Amazon, is doing.   Just recently attended their  advanced skill building webinar and saw further hints of the direction.   Its still a challenge, but deals with more dialog with your ads.  More to follow.

Alexa Wants You to Talk to your Ads    by Ricki Harris in Wired

Bayesian Networks for Media Mix

Been pointing to some of the presentations by Bayesia Lab in their recent Paris show because I know there are readers out there who are interested in applications of Bayesian Networks.   Media Mix is a classical optimization problem in the CPG and marketing world.   How do I apportion advertising spending to various media?   Classic optimization.    You know the saw, "what part of my advertising spending is wasted?"  Did lots of this early on and intriqued by the connections:

Erin Barr: Media Mix Optimization Using Bayesian Belief Networks and BayesiaLab

Visual Reasoning and Dialog

Its all about goal and establishing what is required to reach the goal.

Visual reasoning and dialog: Towards natural language conversations about visual data    Facebook Research by Kelly Berschauer

The broad objective of visual dialog research is to teach machines to have natural language conversations with humans about visual content. This emerging field brings together aspects of computer vision, natural language processing, and dialog systems research.

In general, dialog systems can have a spectrum of capabilities. On one end of the spectrum are task-driven chat bots you can talk to for a specific goal e.g., to book a flight. On the other end are chitchat bots that you can talk to about any topic but without a clear goal in mind. Visual dialog lies somewhere in between the two extremes. It is free-form dialog but the conversation is grounded in the content of a specific image..... " 

Alternative Future Views of Work

Some intriguing models for future work in Strategy+Business:

What Will Work Look Like in 2030?
Imagining four radically different scenarios for how companies will manage people and how people will manage their work and careers.

by Jeff Hesse and Scott Olsen

" .... We at PwC have spent some time envisioning four alternative future worlds of work, each named with a color. These admittedly extreme examples of how work could look in 2030 are shaped by the ways people and organizations respond to the forces of collectivism and individualism, on one axis, and integration and fragmentation on the other. .... "

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Google Stops Tango

Surprised at this.  Tango had impressed me as a way to really understand spaces, analyze them, and intelligently augment them.  Rather than just paste in an image.   Lets hope some of that shows up in ARCore

Google kills augmented reality project Tango to focus on ARCore    By Mark Jansen in DigitalTrends

" ... Tango was always an ambitious project, with big plans for the medical world or as an interactive tour guide in museums. Recently, HoloLens and Tango were used to create a life-like tank experience for guests of the World of Tanks TankFest 2017 event.

Unfortunately for those few who did adopt Tango, it seems the extreme high-end nature of the platform was its stumbling block. Hopefully Google will look to import much of what made Tango great into ARCore.  .... " 

Hilton's Smart Rooms

Some of my past clients watch  hospitality innovation trends, so here is more.    In the past participated in innovation sessions for the customers of smart hotel spaces.

Hilton’s IoT-filled ‘Connected Room’ will be a treasure trove of guest data   By Eric David

Hotel giant Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is jumping on the IoT bandwagon in 2018 with Connected Room, new hotel rooms that will come fully stocked with smart home devices that guests will control from their mobile phones.

Hilton hotels have already offered guests a few smart features, such as mobile check-in and keyless room access, but Connected Room will add a number of other IoT amenities, allowing guests to remotely control their room’s temperature, lighting, TV and more. The rooms will also make it easy for guests to connect to their streaming media accounts for platforms like Netflix and Hulu.  .... " 

Smartphones vs Action Cams

Why Smartphones Won't be Replacing Action Cams Anytime Soon    By Gannon Burgett

In the wake of GoPro’s Hero6 Black announcement, one question that might come up for you is, do you really need this? In an age where water-resistant smartphones are capable of capturing 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps), is there still a market for GoPro, Yi, and other action camera manufacturers?

On the surface, it would appear as though there’s little need for consumers to purchase yet another camera when most phones are capable of capturing photos and videos with similar specs. But it doesn’t take much digging to realize the benefits that come with having a separate, dedicated camera designed to get down and dirty.  ... " 

On the Amazon Machine

Have now had a number of interactions with Amazon, at several levels.  Worth understanding their unusual organizational structure.

More on the Amazon machine, by Ben Evans.

How Amazon's decentralized operating structure and small, independent teams that use common internal systems, are integral to the company's unending scalability  —  When you look at large manufacturing companies, it becomes very clear that the machine that makes the machine is just as important as the machine itself.  .... " 

Value of Data Wrangled

In the Trifacta Blog.  Always important element of doing the analytics.  by Joe Scheuermann  

"... Before data can be analyzed, it must be wrangled (prepped) into the requisite format for the analysis you want to run, especially if you need to blend data from various datasets or sources. This step creates a bottleneck or, worse, an impasse that prevents organizations from harnessing and using the potential of their data to enable data-driven decisions.

Data wrangling has historically been the exclusive domain of skilled data scientists—though, even for trained data scientists, this step can take as much of 80% of an analysis cycle. And because the demand for technical talent far outweighs the supply, the bottleneck in marketing data analytics is compounded.

But help is on the way. A recent influx of emerging data technologies has democratized the process of data wrangling, making it easier for marketers to get hands-on with the data they need to drive results. ... " 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Autonomous Shopping: No Checkouts

So called autonomous, 'checkout-free' experience.     Like that being done with Amazon Go.  Note how other behavioral information can be derived from such interactions.  In Mashable.

 We experimented and provided support to IBM's research work in this area, called BlueEyes, in around 2005.   See tag below.

"  .... A startup is showing how its AI-powered store will change our shopping habits ... A startup called Standard Cognition is experimenting with using machine learning and cameras to create an automated checkout experience.   ... "

See also the demo video at Standard Cognition, which has a more detailed demonstration of the system in action.

(Update) It comes to mind that I have observed my local Kroger getting crowded with workers assembling pickup orders. Could this process be improved by robotics and order interaction with image recognition?  Likely.

Cashier-less in China

Doing some research on the elements and consumer values of the cashier-less store.  Amazon Go getting considerable press this year.   But see also, in Mashable:   China's version of Amazon's cashier-less store is here  " ... The 200 square metre (2,152 square foot) Tao Cafe is the brainchild of Taobao, which is owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba ... ".  My own experience in China was that checkout security was more intense than in the US.

Technology Mega Trends

Well stated, and not just about the tech, but how it can be implemented for value.

Technology Perspective in Forbes: 

Some tech trends fizzle out and die a quiet death, while others are so significant that they transform our world and how we live in it. Here are the top nine tech mega-trends that I believe will define 2018 and beyond.   

by Bernard Marr in Forbes ..... 

Lifelong CEO Learning

For a while was responsible for answering questions from execs on technology, and connecting them to broader resources, this blog was part of that, but it does make sense to schedule learning more formally.  Even making sure the questions are formulated in a timely and useful manner is not a given.

Putting lifelong learning on the CEO agenda
By Amy Edmondson and Bror Saxberg in Mckinsey

In an open letter to business leaders, a Harvard Business School professor and a learning engineer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative present an emphatic case to make learning a corporate priority.

If you are anything like most corporate leaders we know, you say (and mean) the right things when it comes to learning, such as “Our people are our most valuable asset, and their development is a top priority.” But if you are honest with yourself, you also know that your actions often emphasize financial over human capital, and you may leave it to individuals to find the learning opportunities they need. That worked, sort of, when people spent most of their time “doing” rather than “thinking,” “creating,” or “deciding.” .... " 

Microsoft: from Excel, to BI, to Advanced Analytics?

Excel is a legitimate starting place, that is used by many if not most enterprises.  So can it be a reasonable path for industry, when linked to right resources?   Good thoughts in linked piece.

Microsoft BI: From Excel to Power BI
Posted by Ravi Madhavan

Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence software ranks Microsoft as the Leader. Here's how their Power BI solution emerged as the evolution of Excel, along with some clarity on the various components and product names which Microsoft has been using. 

In 1985, Madonna was everywhere- on the radio, in the movies, and inside record stores on that new disruptive technology called compact discs. Back to the Future was the biggest movie of the year. Each Thursday night nearly 30 million households spent the evening watching the Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers and Night Court. It was also the year a ten-year-old Microsoft introduced a humble little program called Excel to the world. The story of Microsoft's rise to the top of the Business Intelligence software game with their Power BI product begins with Excel.

If there were a Mount Rushmore for software, Excel would make the cut. Of course, the real Mount Rushmore is a monument for past great, long dead presidents. So one may think BI, Big Data and Analytics would have made Excel little more than a flashback to the 80's and 90's. Think again. Estimates for total Excel users worldwide range from 400 to 750 million. Almost every organization around the globe still does some portion of their data analysis on Excel. It's fair to say even companies providing the most advanced BI and Analytics tools today still probably use Excel internally, although they may not want to mention it. ..... "

Friday, December 15, 2017

AT&T vs Verizon Visualization

It particularly attracted me because it dealt with maps and visualization of data. You have seen the ads if you watch any TV or use the Internet. Dueling mobile coverage maps. E-Commerce Times provides some of the data behind the claims. Sometimes visualizations are not enough.

Customer Experience with AI at Verizon

Good example of the use of delivering customer experience. 

Tapping AI: The Future of Customer Experience at Verizon Fios
Podcast and transcript:

Verizon Fios's Justin Reilly discusses the future of AI in enhancing the customer experience.
Justin Reilly, head of customer experience innovation for Verizon Fios, is projecting that 80% of value creation in artificial intelligence (AI) will be in business-to-business [B2B] applications, and the rest in consumer services. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton during the Mack Institute for Innovation Management’s fall conference on Emerging Innovation Leadership Challenges for Global Firms, he also noted that Generation Z is increasingly becoming protective of personal data and may start withholding it from companies unless offered compensation, while millennials will continue to favor companies that make positive social contributions. Reilly, who was a conference speaker, also suggested that in a world of vast automation via AI, companies that learn how to preserve a human touch should have a competitive advantage. .... "

Embedding Software in Everything

We are moving quickly in this area, with lots of changes regarding need for better security, and architectures to ensure that.   So many unexpected things will start to become connected.

Embedded Software Eating the World  in IOT Central  An interview:

Software is eating the world wrote Marc Andreessen in The Wall Street Journal on August 20, 2011. Since that time every company in the world has beefed up their software teams and their digital transformation initiatives. Afterall, software is a key competitive advantage, and to survival.

In the IoT space, we often think about the application software that power industrial systems and consumer connected devices. But what about the embedded software written to control machines or devices that are not typically thought of as computers? This is almost everything, from a small digital watch, e-bikes, electronic control units in cars, microwaves and missile guidance systems.

For insight we turned to Jeffrey Fortin, Head of Product Management, Vector Software. Vector provides automated test tools for embedded software applications in automotive, aerospace, medical devices, industrial controls, rail, and other business critical sectors. .... "

Humans vs AI in Healthcare Vision

Google Brain chief Jeff Dean: As AI beats humans in computer vision, healthcare will never be the same

SiliconANGLE by Gina Smith

Just five years ago, artificial intelligence-enabled computers could barely recognize images fed to them, much less analyze them anything like people can. But suddenly, they’ve turned the tables.

“In 2011 their error rate was 26 percent,” says Jeff Dean, chief of the Google Brain project, which along with other tech giants has helped lead a recent revolution in image recognition as well as speech recognition and self-driving cars. Now, he says, computers’ ability to view and analyze images (pictured) exceeds what human eyes can do.

“If you’d have told me that would be a possible just a few years ago, I would’ve never believed you,” Dean said during an appearance at a research event in Heidelberg, Germany. But thanks to AI-enabled computer vision advances, computers “can now see … and that has opened our eyes (about) what is possible.”.... ' 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Chatbots as Customer Service Reps

Overview on the concept of retail chatbots.   This time of year you have probably encountered a few.  Key is doing it right. It is not easy to do them well. Participating in some design. 

Will chatbots replace customer service reps?
by Guest contributor  Retail TouchPoints staff ... in Retailwire

Undoubtedly, chatbots, both text and voice-rendered, will replace a large majority of customer service representatives.  - Shawn Harris

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

Chatbots — AI applications that simulate human conversation — are becoming more pervasive in online and mobile customer service, and acceptance of them is growing: 55 percent of American consumers and 65 percent of Millennials report that they want chatbots involved in the process. In addition, 20 percent of consumers say chatbots in general are definitely making things better, while 40 percent say chatbots are helpful but not yet living up to their full potential. .... " 

More Bayesian Networks

Video, another example of using Bayesian networks.

Dr. Alta de Waal's presentation at the 5th Annual BayesiaLab Conference in Paris.

Spatially Discrete Probability Maps for Anti-Poaching Efforts

Via Stefan Conrady
Managing Partner at Bayesia USA & Singapore: Bayesian Networks  ...

Cortana and Alexa as Collaborating Assistants

This was announced back in late August, and have heard little since.   Reviewed some of the details here of interest.   What can this look like?     Do recent indications by Amazon saying they want to enter the business space, no mention of Cortana there,  change this?   Reviewing this again for possible application.

Microsoft and Amazon agree to enable Cortana, Alexa communication
Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana voice assistants soon will be able to communicate with each other, thanks to a new partnership between the two rivals. .... " 

By Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft

Crowdsourcing Voice Recognitiion

Like the idea of sharing this kind of fundamental data.    Good idea to think about what the structure of such data should look like and be most useful.

Mozilla is crowdsourcing voice recognition to make AI work for the people By James Vincent     @jjvincent in TheVerge

" ... Now a new project from the Mozilla (the nonprofit creator of the Firefox browser) is experimenting with an alternative to data monopolies, by asking users to pool information in order to power open-sourced AI initiatives. The company’s first project is called Common Voice, with Mozilla asking volunteers to donate vocal samples to build an open-source voice recognition system like the ones powering Siri and Alexa .... "

Deloitte Cognitive Tech Survey

Deloitte provides some interesting data on Cognitive via survey

2017 cognitive technologies survey

Early adopters speak out on cognitive and AI
​What do the most aggressive adopters of artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies report based on their efforts to date? On everything from the impact on jobs to their specific goals and exactly which technologies they're using and much more, 250 leaders shared their views on this important business development just as it takes hold in the broader business world. ... " 

Grocery Startup Uses AI

Artificial Intelligence is drawing attention for its potential and its pitfalls. Tesla founder Elon Musk recently called for greater regulation of AI robotics due to its “public risk.” ...

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports from San Francisco about a startup using AI to better serve their business.
Going head to head with giants like AmazonFresh Grocery and big name supermarkets, Farmstead is a new Silicon Valley startup that deliveries groceries. From what it calls micro hubs, Farmstead tracks locally sourced products every step of the way as they’re delivered to homes in San Francisco within one hour of ordering. Farmstead’s secret recipe is AI.

“Artificial intelligence plays a massive role. We take into account all of our customers buying patterns to date. To help us predict exactly how much product to order for every particular item that we carry. We waste a lot less, and as a result we can pass those savings along to our customers,” Farmstead Co-founder & CEO Pradeep Elankumaran said.  .... "

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kroger Does Mobile Payments

Surprised this has taken this long, getting to be an expectation in retail:

JPMorgan Strikes Deal With Kroger for Mobile Payments
By Jennifer Surane  and Craig Giammona in Bloomberg

" ... Kroger Co., the largest U.S. supermarket chain, will begin offering JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Chase Pay mobile wallet in certain markets beginning next year, the two companies said Tuesday in a statement. The partnership will be Kroger’s first venture into mobile payments as the retailer seeks to bring its shopping experience into the digital age. ... " 

Summary of Conference on Robot Learning

In the Google Research Blog.  Broadly about learning in changing contexts and environments.  Links to papers presented.

A Summary of the First Conference on Robot Learning

Posted by Vincent Vanhoucke, Principal Scientist, Google Brain Team and Melanie Saldaña, Program Manager, University Relations

Whether in the form of autonomous vehicles, home assistants or disaster rescue units, robotic systems of the future will need to be able to operate safely and effectively in human-centric environments. In contrast to to their industrial counterparts, they will require a very high level of perceptual awareness of the world around them, and to adapt to continuous changes in both their goals and their environment. Machine learning is a natural answer to both the problems of perception and generalization to unseen environments, and with the recent rapid progress in computer vision and learning capabilities, applying these new technologies to the field of robotics is becoming a very central research question.  ... " 

Electric Eels and Implantable Power

Pacemakers and VR contact lenses are suggested.

Electric eels might be the key to powering implantable devices
This could lead to a pacemaker that never runs out. ... 

By Timothy J. Seppala, @timseppala  in Engadget. ... " 

Ben Evans On the Amazon Machine

Thoughtful piece  ... Now I want Amazon to better give us the power to make our own machines.  Voice Assistants, databases and skills are not enough.  Give me a knowledge architecture to drive some intelligence.   A knowledge machine.

The Amazon machine

When you look at large manufacturing companies, it becomes very clear that the machine that makes the machine is just as important as the machine itself. There’s a lot of work in the iPhone, but there’s also a lot of work in the machine that can manufacture over 200m iPhones in a year. Equally, there’s a lot of work in a Tesla Model 3, but Tesla has yet to build a machine that can manufacture Model 3s efficiently, reliable, quickly and at quality at the scale of the incumbent car industry.

More than any of the other big tech platform companies, Amazon is a machine that makes the machine. People tend to talk about the famous virtuous circle diagram - more volume, lower costs, lower prices, more customers and so more volume. However, I think the operating structure of Amazon - the machine - is just as important, and perhaps less often talked about.   ...  " 

Buying Through Your Car Dashboard

Automobile as a channel.

GM thinks you'll buy stuff through your car's dashboard
Its on-board marketplace lets you purchase items you'll still have to wait in line for.

Rachel England, @rachel_england in Engadget

As more cars roll off production lines with WiFi and LTE capabilities as standard, brands are falling over themselves to find ways to monetize this connectivity. Jaguar and Shell have partnered for in-car fuel payments, while BMW and Ford are bringing Alexa to your dashboard. Now, General Motors (GM) has unveiled a new on-board marketplace where drivers can buy coffee and gas, and make restaurant and hotel reservations, without getting out of their car. ... " 

New and Dynamic Category Management

Spent a big part of a whole career in the analytics of this space.     How new and dynamic are the changes?    Considerable.    Excellent in further discussion in link below.

The next logical step for category management  by Mark Heckman  in Retailwire.

"The reality is that category management has become increasingly complex based upon omnichannel consumer expectations."

Comment by: Chris Petersen, PhD.President, Integrated Marketing Solutions

Recent radical changes in shopper behavior are putting pressure on category management practices to further adapt to the new dynamics of retail. .... 

Amazon.com and other online retail players are now undeniably on brick-and-mortar stores’ competitive radar. Further, new smaller and more efficient physical store competitors — from limited-assortment grocers to dollar stores — are on the march with aggressive growth plans. So how do these new competitive dynamics affect category management practices? .... " 

Exoskeleton Being Tested by Ford

The ultimate integration of people and robotics.

Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology to Help Lessen Chance of Fatique

Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology to Help Lessen Chance of Worker Fatigue, Injury.   Called EksoVest, the wearable technology elevates and supports a worker's arms while performing overhead tasks. Ford assembly line workers are testing new upper body exoskeletal technology ... " 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Google Experiments with Photography

This effort was new to me.  Some of the Apps are available on just on Android, and some on IOS.  Particularly interested in new kinds of mobile based object recognition. 

Google tests experimental technology with three new photography apps  by Colin Kriel in Siliconangle

 Google Inc. Monday launched three new photography apps, part of the company’s new “appsperiments” program.

The new apps are called Storyboard, Selfissimo! and Scrubbies and, according to Google, they’re the first installment of mobile photography experiences that are built on experimental technology.

The “appsperiments” program is inspired by Google’s Motion Stills app, introduced last year, which provides video stabilization for Apple Inc.’s Live Photos. The three new apps and future ones rely on technologies in development at Google, including object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies.  ... " 

Coexisting with Robots

We are starting to see the earliest issues about how we will work with robots.   And the first step will be how can even coexist with them in our streets and walkways.   San Francisco is worried about them and starting with some very specific regulation.

San Francisco to robots: Don’t crowd our sidewalks
By Carolyn Said and Benny Evangelista

Robots that trundle along sidewalks R2D2-style to deliver takeout food or packages are still in early test phases. Few even exist.

But San Francisco is cracking down on them, and that may stem from mounting concerns about automation gobbling up jobs. On Tuesday night, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed tough new regulations that will limit companies to three robots each; limit the city to nine robots total; and confine robots to industrial areas where almost no one lives — all of which makes it hard to test their basic function of delivering goods to consumers. The robots can’t go faster than 3 mph and must have a human monitor, the new law says.  .... " 

Watson IoT Platform

Starting to work on a project that utilizes IOT applications.   Here is an excerpt of Watson IoT's latest overview that we will be working with.   Includes Videos and more.  Will be reporting on some of that here in the coming weeks.  Any ideas or questions, pass them along.

The Internet of Things becomes the Internet that thinks with Watson IoT

The power of IoT is the insight, intelligence and innovation to transform your business and industry

Industry solutions at a glance.

Watson IoT™ Platform understands the language of your industry. Explore how your unique needs become competitive differentiators.

Automotive, Electronics, Energy and utilities, Insurance, Manufacturing, Retail

Transform your industry using data, Watson IoT and AI

ABB is bringing its industry leading digital offering together with Watson IoT cognitive capabilities to unlock new value for customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure. .... " 

IOT Value vs Trust Survey

In the Cisco blog, results from a survey  of interest, with details.

Cisco survey finds consumers like IoT devices but don’t trust their security  by Duncan Riley

 Consumers see great value in “internet of things” devices but lack trust in them because of security concerns, according to a survey recently undertaken by Cisco Systems Inc.

The “IoT Value/Trust Paradox” survey of 3,000 consumers found that 53 percent of respondents believed that IoT devices make their life easier, but only 9 percent have a high level of trust that their data collected and shared via IoT is secure. Despite the low levels of trust, 42 percent of respondents said they were not willing to disconnect their IoT devices because they bring sufficient value to them. ... "