CES 2017: The year of voice — from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence by Sheperd Laughlin
Improvements in natural language processing have set the stage for a revolution in how we interact with tech.

Excerpt:

Over the past several decades, the proliferation of screens and “screen time” has been practically synonymous technology’s ever-expanding role in our lives. But this year’s CES highlights a shift in how we interact with computers: more and more, we’re bypassing screens altogether through the medium of voice.

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association, said that 2017 represented an inflection point in computers’ ability to translate speech into text. When such experiments first began in 1994, he said, their error rate was about 100%. As recently as 2013, computers failed to accurately transcribe 23% of human speech.

But in 2017, they will reach parity with humans, understanding what we say at least 94% of the time. “We’re ushering in an entirely new era of faceless computing,” DuBravac said.

 

 

 

From DSC:
Hmmm…how true: “…the digital age rewards change and punishes stasis.” (
source)

Which reminds me of a photo I took just yesterday morning at one of the malls in our area, where a local Sears store is closing.

It made me wonder…if Sears could do it all over again, what would they do differently? If they had a time machine, would they go back in time and work to become the new Amazon.com?

 

 

 

By the way, this picture is for those people who continue to dismiss the need to change and to adapt.  Surveying the relevant landscapes is an increasingly important thing for all of us to do, especially given that we are now on an exponential pace of technological change.

 

 

Companies must be open to radical reinvention to find new, significant, and sustainable sources of revenue. Incremental adjustments or building something new outside of the core business can provide real benefits and, in many cases, are a crucial first step for a digital transformation. But if these initiatives don’t lead to more profound changes to the core business and avoid the real work of rearchitecting how the business makes money, the benefits can be fleeting and too insignificant to avert a steady march to oblivion.

 

 

 



Addendum on 2/10/17

  • Macy’s earnings: Shifts in retail are hurting major players — from marketwatch.com by Tonya Garcia
    Macy’s has assets like real estate and brand identity, but shifts in the sector are putting pressure on earningsExcerpt:
    Even a major player like Macy’s M, +1.51%   isn’t immune to retail’s struggles. The sector is experiencing a dramatic shift to e-commerce and changes in consumer tastes and shopping behavior that have put pressure on department store earnings, and on the industry as a whole. Macy’s has already announced 100 store closures and thousands of job cuts, in addition to a reassessment of its real-estate assets. Now there’s buzz from reports about buyout talks with Hudson’s Bay Co. HBC, parent to Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue.

 

 

 

Especially for students:
Tips for Building a Great LinkedIn Profile — from blog.linkedin.com expert

 

Build a LinkedIn profile

 

 

It’s Here! Get the 2017 NMC Horizon Report

Earlier this week, the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) jointly released the NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Higher Education Edition at the 2017 ELI Annual Meeting. This 14th edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of universities and colleges.

 

 

The topics are summarized in the infographic below:

 

 

 

Getting Started On Your Internship Search: March Is The Best Month to Apply — from Linkedin.com

 

 

Excerpt:

Getting started on your internship search doesn’t have to be daunting. We took a look at LinkedIn data to see where you should look and when to apply.

As we approach the middle of the spring semester, it’s time to get started on your internship search. While the competition is fierce and many students don’t typically know where to start, LinkedIn has new information that can help. We took a look at how millions of university students landed their internships to help get you started on your search.

If you’re interested in learning more about the most popular internships by major and the industries that have the highest chance of translating an internship into a full time job, look no further than this post about the three things you need to know to get started on your internship search.

 

 

 

 

 

KPMG & Microsoft Announce New “Blockchain Nodes” — from finance.yahoo.com

Excerpt:

NEW YORK, Feb. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — KPMG International and Microsoft Corp. have announced the launch of joint Blockchain Nodes, which are designed to create and demonstrate use cases that apply blockchain technology to business propositions and processes.  The first joint Blockchain Nodes are in Frankfurt and Singapore, with future plans for a location in New York.

The KPMG and Microsoft Blockchain Nodes –innovation workspaces– will expand on a global alliance, which combines Microsoft’s technical expertise with KPMG’s deep industry and blockchain application knowledge, together with strong connections to the start-up and developer communities.

“The Blockchain Nodes will play a critical role in identifying new applications and use cases that blockchain can address,” said Eamonn Maguire, global and US leader for KPMG’s Digital Ledger Services. “They will enable us to work directly with clients to discover and test ideas based on market insights, creating and implementing prototype solutions that use this innovative technology.”

 

 

IBM Brings Machine Learning to the Private Cloud — from finance.yahoo.com
First to automate creation and training of learning analytic models at the source of high value corporate data, starting with IBM z System Mainframe

Excerpt:

ARMONK, N.Y., Feb. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced IBM Machine Learning, the first cognitive platform for continuously creating, training and deploying a high volume of analytic models in the private cloud at the source of vast corporate data stores.  Even using the most advanced techniques, data scientists – in shortest supply among today’s IT skills1 – might spend days or weeks developing, testing and retooling even a single analytic model one step at a time.

IBM has extracted the core machine learning technology from IBM Watson and will initially make it available where much of the world’s enterprise data resides: the z System mainframe, the operational core of global organizations where billions of daily transactions are processed by banks, retailers, insurers, transportation firms and governments.

IBM Machine Learning allows data scientists to automate the creation, training and deployment of operational analytic models that will support…

 

 

Amazon Echo and Google Home may soon be able to make voice calls — from financye.yahoo.com and Business Insider by Jeff Dunn

Excerpt:

The Amazon Echo and Google Home could be used to make and receive phone calls later this year, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Knutson and Laura Stevens. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report says that both Amazon and Google are looking to activate the feature, but that their attempts have been slowed by privacy and regulatory concerns. Amazon has reportedly been working on Echo-specific voice calls since 2015, but has been held up by “employee turnover” as well.

 

 

Amazon unveils Chime, looks to reinvent the conference call with new Skype and GoToMeeting competitor — from geekwire.com by John Cook

Excerpt:

Amazon is looking to transform just about every industry.

Now, the Seattle tech juggernaut wants to reinvent how you conduct meetings and conference calls.

Amazon Web Services today unveiled Chime, a new service that it says takes the “frustration out of meetings” by delivering video, voice, chat, and screen sharing. Instead of forcing participants to call one another on a dedicated line, Amazon Chime automatically calls all participants at the start of a meeting, so “joining a meeting is as easy as clicking a button in the app, no PIN required,” the company said in a press release. Chime also shows a visual roster of participants, and allows participants to pinpoint who exactly on the call is creating annoying background noise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Virtual Reality “teach” empathy? — from hechingerreport.org by Chris Berdik
Immersive VR in the classroom is spreading fast, as teachers take students into other worlds

Excerpt:

In November 2015, middle-school students from Westchester County, New York, found themselves on a windswept field in South Sudan mingling with a crowd of refugees fleeing civil war. Suddenly, they heard the deafening roar of low-flying military cargo planes overhead, followed by large bags of grain thudding to the ground all around them.

“The kids were jumping back from those bags dropping at their feet,” recalled Cayne Letizia, the teacher who used immersive virtual reality (VR) to transport his class into this emergency food drop featured in the New York Times 360-degree video series about refugees. Count Letizia among VR’s burgeoning fan base in education, where the spread of high-quality content and more-affordable hardware (especially Google’s $15 Cardboard Viewer) gives students myriad ways to briefly inhabit what they’re learning—from wandering the streets of ancient Rome to touring the International Space Station.

 

From DSC:
I read the other day where someone asserted that you can’t make someone be more empathetic. That may be so, but VR can sure put you in someone else’s shoes — big time!  And that seems like in many cases, that can be a good thing in terms of understanding what someone else might be going through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Innovative Companies of 2017 — from fastcompany.com

Excerpt:

This year marks the 10th edition of the Fast Company World’s Most Innovative Companies ranking. Our reporting team sifts through thousands of enterprises each year, searching for those that tap both heartstrings and purse strings and use the engine of commerce to make a difference in the world. Impact is among our key criteria.

 

 

 

Speaking of innovation, this article is about innovation within the world of  higher education:

Crafting an Innovation Landscape — from er.educause.edu by Shirley Dugdale and Brian Strawn

Key Takeaways

  • As efforts to stimulate innovation spring up across campuses, institutions need a comprehensive planning framework for integrated planning of initiatives to support innovation.
  • Viewing the campus as an Innovation Landscape, settings for collaborative creative activity — both physical and virtual — infuse the campus fabric and become part of the daily experience of their users.
  • The Innovation Landscape Framework proposed here serves as a tool that can help coordinate physical planning with organizational initiatives, engage a wide range of stakeholders, and enable a culture of innovation across campus.

 

 

 

Infected Vending Machines And Light Bulbs DDoS A University — from forbes.com by Lee Mathews; with a shout out to eduwire for this resource

Excerpt:

IoT devices have become a favorite weapon of cybercriminals. Their generally substandard security — and the sheer numbers of connected devices — make them an enticing target. We’ve seen what a massive IoT botnet is capable of doing, but even a relatively small one can cause a significant amount of trouble.

A few thousand infected IoT devices can cut a university off from the Internet, according to an incident that the Verizon RISK (Research, Investigations, Solutions and Knowledge) team was asked to assist with. All the attacker had to do was re-program the devices so they would periodically try to connect to seafood-related websites.

How can that simple act grind Internet access to a halt across an entire university network? By training around 5,000 devices to send DNS queries simultaneously…

 

 

Hackers Use New Tactic at Austrian Hotel: Locking the Doors — from nytimes.com by Dan Bilefskyjan

Excerpt:

The ransom demand arrived one recent morning by email, after about a dozen guests were locked out of their rooms at the lakeside Alpine hotel in Austria.

The electronic key system at the picturesque Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt had been infiltrated, and the hotel was locked out of its own computer system, leaving guests stranded in the lobby, causing confusion and panic.

“Good morning?” the email began, according to the hotel’s managing director, Christoph Brandstaetter. It went on to demand a ransom of two Bitcoins, or about $1,800, and warned that the cost would double if the hotel did not comply with the demand by the end of the day, Jan. 22.

Mr. Brandstaetter said the email included details of a “Bitcoin wallet” — the account in which to deposit the money — and ended with the words, “Have a nice day!”

 

“Ransomware is becoming a pandemic,” said Tony Neate, a former British police officer who investigated cybercrime for 15 years. “With the internet, anything can be switched on and off, from computers to cameras to baby monitors.”

 

To guard against future attacks, however, he said the Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt was considering replacing its electronic keys with old-fashioned door locks and real keys of the type used when his great-grandfather founded the hotel. “The securest way not to get hacked,” he said, “is to be offline and to use keys.”

 

 

 

Regulation of the Internet of Things — from schneier.com by Bruce Schneier

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Late last month, popular websites like Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and PayPal went down for most of a day. The distributed denial-of-service attack that caused the outages, and the vulnerabilities that made the attack possible, was as much a failure of market and policy as it was of technology. If we want to secure our increasingly computerized and connected world, we need more government involvement in the security of the “Internet of Things” and increased regulation of what are now critical and life-threatening technologies. It’s no longer a question of if, it’s a question of when.

The technical reason these devices are insecure is complicated, but there is a market failure at work. The Internet of Things is bringing computerization and connectivity to many tens of millions of devices worldwide. These devices will affect every aspect of our lives, because they’re things like cars, home appliances, thermostats, light bulbs, fitness trackers, medical devices, smart streetlights and sidewalk squares. Many of these devices are low-cost, designed and built offshore, then rebranded and resold. The teams building these devices don’t have the security expertise we’ve come to expect from the major computer and smartphone manufacturers, simply because the market won’t stand for the additional costs that would require. These devices don’t get security updates like our more expensive computers, and many don’t even have a way to be patched. And, unlike our computers and phones, they stay around for years and decades.

An additional market failure illustrated by the Dyn attack is that neither the seller nor the buyer of those devices cares about fixing the vulnerability. The owners of those devices don’t care. They wanted a webcam —­ or thermostat, or refrigerator ­— with nice features at a good price. Even after they were recruited into this botnet, they still work fine ­— you can’t even tell they were used in the attack. The sellers of those devices don’t care: They’ve already moved on to selling newer and better models. There is no market solution because the insecurity primarily affects other people. It’s a form of invisible pollution.

 

 

From DSC:
We have to do something about these security-related issues — now!  If not, you can kiss the Internet of Things goodbye — or at least I sure hope so. Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to the the Internet of Things come to fruition in many areas. However, if governments and law enforcement agencies aren’t going to get involved to fix the problems, I don’t want to see the Internet of Things take off.  The consequences of not getting this right are too huge — with costly ramifications.  As Bruce mentions in his article, it will likely take government regulation before this type of issue goes away.

 

 

Regardless of what you think about regulation vs. market solutions, I believe there is no choice. Governments will get involved in the IoT, because the risks are too great and the stakes are too high. Computers are now able to affect our world in a direct and physical manner.

Bruce Schneier

 

 

 



Addendum on 2/15/17:

I was glad to learn of the following news today:

  • NXP Unveils Secure Platform Solution for the IoT — from finance.yahoo.com
    Excerpt:
    SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RSA Conference 2017 – Electronic security and trust are key concerns in the digital era, which are magnified as everything becomes connected in the Internet of Things (IoT). NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI) today disclosed details of a secure platform for building trusted connected products. The QorIQ Layerscape Secure Platform, built on the NXP trust architecture technology, enables developers of IoT equipment to easily build secure and trusted systems. The platform provides a complete set of hardware, software and process capabilities to embed security and trust into every aspect of a product’s life cycle.Recent security breaches show that even mundane devices like web-cameras or set-top boxes can be used to both attack the Internet infrastructure and/or spy on their owners. IoT solutions cannot be secured against such misuse unless they are built on technology that addresses all aspects of a secure and trusted product lifecycle. In offering the Layerscape Secure Platform, NXP leverages decades of experience supplying secure embedded systems for military, aerospace, and industrial markets.

 

 

This Mobile VR Crane Simulator Showcases the Future of Industrial Training — from roadtovr.com by Dominic Brennan

 

 

Description from an Inside VR & AR newsletter:

The Mobile Crane Simulator combines an Oculus headset with a modular rig to greatly reduce the cost of training. The system, from Industrial Training International and Serious Labs, Inc, will debut at the ConExpo Event this March in Las Vegas. The designers chose the Oculus for its comfort and portability, but the set-up supports OpenVR, allowing it to potentially also work on the Vive. (The “mobile” in the device’s name refers to a type of crane, rather than to mobile VR.) – ROAD TO VR

 

 
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