From DSC:
There are now more than 12,000+ skills on Amazon’s new platform — Alexa.  I continue to wonder…what will this new platform mean/deliver to societies throughout the globe?


 

From this Alexa Skills Kit page:

What Is an Alexa Skill?
Alexa is Amazon’s voice service and the brain behind millions of devices including Amazon Echo. Alexa provides capabilities, or skills, that enable customers to create a more personalized experience. There are now more than 12,000 skills from companies like Starbucks, Uber, and Capital One as well as innovative designers and developers.

What Is the Alexa Skills Kit?
With the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), designers, developers, and brands can build engaging skills and reach millions of customers. ASK is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation, and code samples that makes it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. With ASK, you can leverage Amazon’s knowledge and pioneering work in the field of voice design.

You can build and host most skills for free using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

 

 

 


 

 

7 things you should know about artificial intelligence in teaching and learning — from Educause Learning Initiative (ELI)

Abstract:

The term artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that undertake tasks usually thought to require human cognitive processes and decision-making capabilities. To exhibit intelligence, computers apply algorithms to find patterns in large amounts of data—a process called machine learning, which plays a key role in a number of AI applications. AI learning agents have the potential to function like adaptive learning but at a much more sophisticated and nuanced level, potentially giving every student a computer-simulated personal mentor. Many colleges and universities are developing AI projects that aid teaching and learning.

 

7 things you should know about the evolution of teaching and learning professions — from Educause Learning Initiative (ELI)

Abstract

For this issue of the 7 Things, we asked a set of seven community leaders—who come from different walks of life in the community—to offer a short meditation on the evolution of the profession. In this issue you will find comments from professionals such as an instructional designer, a CIO, an accessibility expert, and a librarian. We hope that this issue and the spotlight it casts on the evolution of our profession will encourage us to begin further conversations about where we are headed and how we can help one another to achieve our professional goals.

 

Chief information officers are fast becoming chief innovation officers. It is increasingly critical for the CIO to be an advocate and leader of transformational change on campus rather than a director and manager of IT operations.

A key “big picture” area is the mission of teaching and learning. How do the systems we select today enable improved learning opportunities over the next three years? Will this solution empower students and faculty for years to come or merely meet a tactical need today?
There are increasing opportunities for librarians to work as partners with faculty to develop challenging assignments that encourage students to create a project with an output of a video, podcast, website, data visualization, blog, or other format.
“Support” connotes a hierarchy that doesn’t recognize that staff are valuable assets who play an important role in postsecondary education. We need to find a new language that promotes the ethos of service and servant leadership, within the context of describing ourselves as non-faculty educators and alternative academics.
Once, we thought the faculty role was expanding such that instructors would become learning designers and proto-technologists. Instead, an increasingly competitive and austere landscape is putting competing pressures on faculty, either around research expectations or expanded teaching responsibilities, preventing most from expanding their roles. 
 

Veeery interesting. Alexa now adds visuals / a screen! With the addition of 100 skills a day, where might this new platform lead?

Amazon introduces Echo Show

The description reads:

  • Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
  • Introducing a new way to be together. Make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have an Echo Show or the Alexa App, and make voice calls to anyone who has an Echo or Echo Dot.
  • See lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi. Also, stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more.
  • Powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response
  • Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby’s room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo. Turn on lights, control thermostats and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices.
  • With eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction—even while music is playing
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Jeopardy!, Allrecipes, CNN, and more

 

 

 

 

 

 



From DSC:

Now we’re seeing a major competition between the heavy-hitters to own one’s living room, kitchen, and more. Voice controlled artificial intelligence. But now, add the ability to show videos, text, graphics, and more. Play music. Control the lights and the thermostat. Communicate with others via hands-free video calls.

Hmmm….very interesting times indeed.

 

 

Developers and corporates released 4,000 new skills for the voice assistant in just the last quarter. (source)

 

…with the company adding about 100 skills per day. (source)

 

 

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

 



 

Addendum on 5/10/17:

 



 

 

Microsoft Cortana-Powered Speaker Challenges Amazon’s Echo With Skype Calls — from foxbusiness.com by y Jay Greene

Excerpt:

Microsoft Corp. is hoping to challenge Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo smart speaker for a spot on the kitchen counter with a device from Samsung Electronics Co. that can make phone calls. The Invoke, which will debut this fall, comes more two years after the release of the Echo, which has sold more 11 million units through late last year, according to estimates by Morgan Stanley. It also will compete with Alphabet Inc.’s Google Home, which was released last fall. The voice-controlled Invoke, made by Samsung’s Harman Kardon unit, will use Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant to take commands.

 

 

Microsoft Screams ‘Me Too’ With Cortana-Powered Rival to Amazon Echo and Google Home — from gizmodo.com by Alex Cranz

Excerpt:

With Microsoft’s Build developer conference just two days away, the company has revealed one of the most anticipated announcements from the event: A new Cortana-powered speaker made by German audio giant Harman Kardon.

Now, it’s fair to see this speaker for what it is: An answer to the Google Home and Amazon Echo. Both assistant-powered speakers are already in homes across our great nation, listening to your noises, noting your habits, and in general invading your lives under the guise of smart home helpfulness. The new Microsoft speaker, dubbed “Invoke,” one will presumably do the good stuff, let giving you updates on the weather and letting you turn on some soothing jazz for your dog with just a spoken command. Microsoft is also hoping that partnering with Harmon Kardon means its speaker can avoid one of the bigger problems with these devices—their tendency to sound cheap and tinny.

 

 

 

 

Harman Kardon’s Invoke speaker is a Cortana-powered take on an Amazon Echo — from theverge.com by Chaim Gartenberg

Excerpt:

As teased earlier, the Invoke speaker will offer 360-degree speakers, Skype calling, and smart home control all through voice commands. Design-wise, the Invoke strongly resembles Amazon’s Echo that its meant to compete with: both offer a similar cylindrical aluminum shape, light ring, and a seven-microphone array. That said, Harmon Kardon seems to be taking the “speaker” portion of its functionality more seriously than Amazon does, with the Invoke offering three woofers and three tweeters (compared to the Echo, which offers just a single of each driver). Microsoft is also highlighting the Invoke’s ability to make and receive Skype calls to other Skype devices as well as cellphones and landlines, which is an interesting addition to a home assistant.

 

 

From DSC:
Here we see yet another example of the increasing use of voice as a means of communicating with our computing-related devices. AI-based applications continue to develop.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
This type of technology could be good, or it could be bad…or, like many technologies, it could be both — depends upon how it’s used. The resources below mention some positive applications, but also some troubling applications.


 

Lyrebird claims it can recreate any voice using just one minute of sample audio — from theverge.com by James Vincent
The results aren’t 100 percent convincing, but it’s a sign of things to come

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence is making human speech as malleable and replicable as pixels. Today, a Canadian AI startup named Lyrebird unveiled its first product: a set of algorithms the company claims can clone anyone’s voice by listening to just a single minute of sample audio.

 

 

 

 

 

Also see:

 

Imitating people’s speech patterns precisely could bring trouble — from economist.com by
You took the words right out of my mouth

Excerpt:

UTTER 160 or so French or English phrases into a phone app developed by CandyVoice, a new Parisian company, and the app’s software will reassemble tiny slices of those sounds to enunciate, in a plausible simulacrum of your own dulcet tones, whatever typed words it is subsequently fed. In effect, the app has cloned your voice. The result still sounds a little synthetic but CandyVoice’s boss, Jean-Luc Crébouw, reckons advances in the firm’s algorithms will render it increasingly natural. Similar software for English and four widely spoken Indian languages, developed under the name of Festvox, by Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute, is also available. And Baidu, a Chinese internet giant, says it has software that needs only 50 sentences to simulate a person’s voice.

Until recently, voice cloning—or voice banking, as it was then known—was a bespoke industry which served those at risk of losing the power of speech to cancer or surgery.

More troubling, any voice—including that of a stranger—can be cloned if decent recordings are available on YouTube or elsewhere. Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, led by Nitesh Saxena, were able to use Festvox to clone voices based on only five minutes of speech retrieved online. When tested against voice-biometrics software like that used by many banks to block unauthorised access to accounts, more than 80% of the fake voices tricked the computer.

 

 

Per Candyvoice.com:

Expert in digital voice processing, CandyVoice offers software to facilitate and improve vocal communication between people and communicating objects. With applications in:

Health
Customize your devices of augmentative and alternative vocal communication by integrating in them your users’ personal vocal model

Robots & Communicating objects
Improve communication with robots through voice conversion, customized TTS, and noise filtering

Video games
Enhance the gaming experience by integrating vocal conversion of character’s voice in real time, and the TTS customizing

 

 

Also related:

 

 

From DSC:
Given this type of technology, what’s to keep someone from cloning a voice, putting together whatever you wanted that person to say, and then making it appear that Alexa recorded that other person’s voice?

 

 

 

 

Amazon’s new bricks-&-mortar bookstore nails what the web couldn’t — from hackernoon.com by Pat Ryan

or

A title from DSC:
How Amazon uses its vast data resources to reinvent the bookstore

 

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Amazon’s First Foray into Physical Retail — While Utilitarian — Takes Discovery to New Levels
As a long time city dweller living in a neighborhood full of history, I had mixed feelings about the arrival of Amazon’s first bricks-and-mortar bookstore in a city neighborhood (the first four are located in malls). Like most of my neighbors around Chicago’s Southport Corridor, I prefer the charm of owner operated boutiques. Yet as a tech entrepreneur who holds Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in the highest esteem, I was excited to see how Amazon would reimagine the traditional bookstore given their customer obsession and their treasure trove of user data. Here’s what I discovered…

The Bottom Line:
I will still go to Amazon.com for the job of ordering a book that I already know that I want (and to the local Barnes and Noble if I need it today). But when I need to discover a book for gifts (Father’s Day is coming up soon enough) or for my own interest, nothing that I have seen compares to Amazon Books. We had an amazing experience and discovered more books in 20 minutes than we had in the past month or two.

 

 

The physical manifestation of the “if you like…then you’ll love…”

 

 

 

The ultra metric combining insights from disparate sources seems more compelling than standard best seller lists

 

 

 

4 Ways Technology Is Changing Recruiting — from blog.hrtechweekly.com by Ji-A Min

Excerpt:

AI for recruiting
Industry statistics estimate 75 percent of resumes received for a role are screened out. This adds up to the hundreds of hours a recruiter wastes reading unqualified resumes per year. As one of recruiting’s biggest bottlenecks, resume screening is in dire need of better tools to help recruiters manage their time more effectively. This is why AI for recruiting is the biggest topic in HR tech right now. AI and recruiting are a natural fit because AI requires a lot of data to learn and large companies often have millions of resumes in their ATS.

Recruiting software that uses artificial intelligence can automate the screening process by learning the experience, skills, and qualifications required for the job and then shortlisting, ranking, and grading new candidates who match the requirements (e.g., from A to D). This type of AI recruiting software can also be used to source candidates from external databases such as Indeed and CareerBuilder or find previous candidates in your existing ATS database by applying the same learning ability to match candidates to an open req. By automating the manual processes of resume screening and candidate matching, companies who use AI recruiting software have reduced their screening costs by 75%.

Comment from DSC:
This is exactly why I tell my students to be sure they have an account on LinkedIn — which is owned by Microsoft. A piece of Microsoft will likely traverse down the AI-based pathway. (I also encourage them to have other pieces of their digital/online-based footprint such as an account on Twitter as well as their own WordPress-based blog).  Data mining and the use of AI for hiring will only pick up steam from here on out. If you don’t exist online, you had better have a lot of contacts and foots in the doors elsewhere.

 

 

Today more than ever, finding top talent will depend on a recruiter’s ability to intelligently automate their workflow.

 

 

 

Google is shifting their focus from Search to artificial intelligence, CEO says — from zmescience.com by

Excerpt:

While delivering Google’s first quarterly income report on Thursday, the company’s CEO said that Google is transitioning — the search-engine giant will become an A.I.-first company.

“We continue to set the pace in machine learning and A.I. research,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a call [embedded at the end of the article] to investors on Thursday to report the company’s Q1 2017 earnings.

“We’re transitioning to an A.I.-first company.”

 

 

 

A revolutionary partnership: How artificial intelligence is pushing man and machine closer together — from pcw.com

Excerpt:

With more than $5 billion in 605 deals of VC investment over last 2 years, artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to have a transformative effect on consumer, enterprise, and government markets around the world. While there are certainly obstacles to overcome, consumers believe that AI has the potential to assist in medical breakthroughs, democratize costly services, elevate poor customer service, and even free up an overburdened workforce. We dug deeper into those perceptions through an online survey of consumers and business decision makers, and an expert salon with thought leaders in the field. This original research unpacks key ways AI may impact our world, delving into its implications for society, service, and management.

 

Also see:

AI has the potential to become a great equalizer. More than half of consumers believe AI will provide educational help to disadvantaged schoolchildren. Over 40% also believe AI will expand access to financial, medical, legal, and transportation services to those with lower incomes.

Consumers also see the value in sharing their personal information for the greater good: 62% would share their data to help relieve traffic in their cities and 57% would do so to further medical breakthroughs.

 

 

 

Brace yourselves: AI is set to explode in higher ed in the next 4 years –from ecampusnews.com by Laura Ascione
As AI grows in the education sector, its impact could be felt in student learning programs, websites and admissions programs

Excerpt:

A new report predicts that artificial intelligence (AI) in the U.S. education sector will grow 47.5 percent through 2021.

The report, Artificial Intelligence Market in the U.S. Education Sector 2017-2021, is based on in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts.

One of the major trends surrounding AI and education is AI-powered educational games. Because games have the potential to engage students while teaching them challenging education concepts in an engaging manner, vendors are incorporating AI features into games to enhance their interactivity.

Educational games that include adaptive learning features give students frequent and timely suggestions for a guided learning experience.

 

From DSC:
I can’t say how many AI-based solutions we’ll see within higher education in the next 4 years…it could be a lot…it could be a little. But it will happen. At some point, it will happen.

The use of AI will likely play a key role in a future organization that I’m calling the Next Amazon.com of Higher Education.  AI will likely serve as a foundational piece of what futurist Thomas Frey claims will be the largest company on the internet: “an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.” (source)

Web-based learner profiles and blockchain-based technologies should also be on our radars, and are relevant in this discussion.

 

Also see:

Key questions answered in this report

  • What will the market size be in 2021 and what will the growth rate be?
  • What are the key market trends?
  • What is driving this market?
  • What are the challenges to market growth?
  • Who are the key vendors in this market space?
  • What are the market opportunities and threats faced by the key vendors?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the key vendors?

 

 

 

Q&A: Artificial Intelligence Expert Shares His Vision of the Future of Education — from edtechmagazine.com by Amy Burroughs
Artificial intelligence expert Joseph Qualls believes AI can solve some of the biggest challenges facing higher education — and the change is already underway.

Excerpts:

EDTECH: What AI applications might we see in higher education?

QUALLS: You are going to see a massive change in education from K–12 to the university. The thought of having large universities and large faculties teaching students is probably going to go away — not in the short-term, but in the long-term. You will have a student interact with an AI system that will understand him or her and provide an educational path for that particular student. Once you have a personalized education system, education will become much faster and more enriching. You may have a student who can do calculus in the sixth grade because AI realized he had a mathematical sense. That personalized education is going to change everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
I haven’t tried this app myself, but I was intrigued by the concept behind it. Machine learning/deep learning is very much at play here, as the app can recognize a particular problem and then present some potential assistance/answers to you. “Take a photo. Get instant help.”

 



 

Description
Take a PHOTO of your homework question and get explanations, videos, and step-by-step help instantly. Supports Math, Science, History, English, Econ and more. Completely free, NO in-app purchases. “This app is a lifesaver”

  • Fast – Take a photo, get instant results, no waiting
  • Explainers – Teaches you exactly what you need to learn
  • Videos – The best Youtube videos for your question
  • Powerful – Better than Google for homework help
  • Free – Free to use and always will be

~~ How it works ~~
Socratic is a homework app that combines cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) with amazing learning content to make learning on your phone easy.

Take a picture of a homework question and our AI instantly figures out which concepts you need to learn in order to answer it, and shows you simple, high-quality content designed to make learning easy.

Socratic’s AI combines cutting-edge computer vision technologies, which read questions from images, with machine learning classifiers built using millions of sample homework questions, to accurately predict which concepts will help you solve your question.

Socratic’s team of educators is creating highly-visual, jargon-free content to teach every important high school curriculum concept, and is curating the best online videos from sources like Khan Academy, Crash Course, and others.

Together, the Socratic app represents a huge improvement in how students learn on the Internet.

 



 

From DSC:
Again, this is the type of service that I could see the New Amazon.com of Higher Education featuring in their courses and/or microlearning-based offerings.

Also see:

.

  • Q&A: Artificial Intelligence Expert Shares His Vision of the Future of Education — edtechmagazine.com from by Amy Burroughs
    Artificial intelligence expert Joseph Qualls believes AI can solve some of the biggest challenges facing higher education — and the change is already underway.

    Excerpts:

    EDTECH: What AI applications might we see in higher education?

    QUALLS: You are going to see a massive change in education from K–12 to the university. The thought of having large universities and large faculties teaching students is probably going to go away — not in the short-term, but in the long-term. You will have a student interact with an AI system that will understand him or her and provide an educational path for that particular student. Once you have a personalized education system, education will become much faster and more enriching. You may have a student who can do calculus in the sixth grade because AI realized he had a mathematical sense. That personalized education is going to change everything.

 



 

 

 

Making sure the machines don’t take over — from raconteur.net by Mark Frary
Preparing economic players for the impact of artificial intelligence is a work in progress which requires careful handling

 

From DSC:
This short article presents a balanced approach, as it relays both the advantages and disadvantages of AI in our world.

Perhaps it will be one of higher education’s new tasks — to determine the best jobs to go into that will survive the next 5-10+ years and help you get up-to-speed in those areas. The liberal arts are very important here, as they lay a solid foundation that one can use to adapt to changing conditions and move into multiple areas. If the C-suite only sees the savings to the bottom line — and to *&^# with humanity (that’s their problem, not mine!) — then our society could be in trouble.

 

Also see:

 

 

 
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