AWS and Microsoft announce Gluon, making deep learning accessible to all developers — from news.microsoft.com
New open source deep learning interface allows developers to more easily and quickly build machine learning models without compromising training performance. Jointly developed reference specification makes it possible for Gluon to work with any deep learning engine; support for Apache MXNet available today and support for Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit coming soon.

Excerpt:

SEATTLE and REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 12, 2017 — On Thursday, Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced a new deep learning library, called Gluon, that allows developers of all skill levels to prototype, build, train and deploy sophisticated machine learning models for the cloud, devices at the edge and mobile apps. The Gluon interface currently works with Apache MXNet and will support Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK) in an upcoming release. With the Gluon interface, developers can build machine learning models using a simple Python API and a range of prebuilt, optimized neural network components. This makes it easier for developers of all skill levels to build neural networks using simple, concise code, without sacrificing performance. AWS and Microsoft published Gluon’s reference specification so other deep learning engines can be integrated with the interface. To get started with the Gluon interface, visit https://github.com/gluon-api/gluon-api/.

 

 

Microsoft and Amazon struck a brilliant partnership to take on Google in the next big thing for cloud computing  — from finance.yahoo.com Business Insider by Julie Bort

Excerpt:

  • Microsoft and Amazon announced a surprise partnership on Thursday in which they were jointly releasing for free a new software tool for developers called Gluon.
  • Gluon makes it easier for developers to build AI/machine learning systems, aka apps that can learn.
  • But there’s another, more important reason this partnership is interesting: it challenges Google in its one big area of dominance.

 

 

 

 

1,600 donated Echo Dots say hello to Arizona State engineering students — from by Corinne Lestch; with thanks to eduwire for their posting on this
ASU says the voice-controlled Amazon devices aren’t just for campus questions — they’re preparing students for future technologies, too.

Excerpt:

ASU students have set up Echo Dots, a hands-free, voice-controlled device the size of a hockey puck, in engineering residence halls.

Students can ask questions about topics ranging from the weather to campus sporting events to library hours to exam schedules.

“We’re continuing to add content as we’re learning what students want to learn about,” Rome said. “So there’s this feedback loop of what students want, and we monitor what questions are being asked.”

Amazon donated about 1,600 Dots to engineering students at ASU, so the technology belongs to the students, not to the school. The students can choose to use them or not, said John German, director for media relations and research communications.

“We have the largest engineering school in the country, and one of the things we’re trying to do is teach students the most advanced technology, the kinds of technology that are going to make them competitive in the job market when they get their degrees,” German said. “And voice technology is a field that’s growing. It’s going to play a role in the future.”

 

 

“Voice is becoming the new mobile of 10 years ago,” Rome said. “We’ve decided to be an early adopter of this technology.”

“There’s going to come some day when students can interact [with ASU’s student portal] via webpage or microphone on their mobile phones,” he said. “We think that’s inevitable.”

 

 

 

 

100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2021 — from Gartner

From DSC:
I just wanted to include some excerpts (see below) from Gartner’s 100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2021 report. I do so to illustrate how technology’s impact continues to expand/grow in influence throughout many societies around the globe, as well as to say that if you want a sure thing job in the next 1-15 years, I would go into studying data science and/or artificial intelligence!

 



Excerpts:

As evidenced by its pervasiveness within our vast array of recently published Predicts 2017 research, it is clear that data and analytics are increasingly critical elements across most industries, business functions and IT disciplines. Most significantly, data and analytics are key to a successful digital business. This collection of more than 100 data-and-analytics-related Strategic Planning Assumptions (SPAs) or predictions through 2021, heralds several transformations and challenges ahead that CIOs and data and analytics leaders should embrace and include in their planning for successful strategies. Common themes across the discipline in general, and within particular business functions and industries, include:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as a core business and analytic competency. Beyond yesteryear’s hard-coded algorithms and manual data science activities, machine learning (ML) promises to transform business processes, reconfigure workforces, optimize infrastructure behavior and blend industries through rapidly improved decision making and process optimization.
  • Natural language is beginning to play a dual role in many organizations and applications as a source of input for analytic and other applications, and a variety of output, in addition to traditional analytic visualizations.
  • Information itself is being recognized as a corporate asset (albeit not yet a balance sheet asset), prompting organizations to become more disciplined about monetizing, managing and measuring it as they do with other assets. This includes “spending” it like cash, selling/licensing it to others, participating in emerging data marketplaces, applying asset management principles to improve its quality and availability, and quantifying its value and risks in a variety of ways.
  • Smart devices that both produce and consume Internet of Things (IoT) data will also move intelligent computing to the edge of business functions, enabling devices in almost every industry to operate and interact with humans and each other without a centralized command and control. The resulting opportunities for innovation are unbounded.
  • Trust becomes the watchword for businesses, devices and information, leading to the creation of digital ethics frameworks, accreditation and assessments. Most attempts at leveraging blockchain as a trust mechanism fail until technical limitations, particularly performance, are solved.

Education
Significant changes to the global education landscape have taken shape in 2016, and spotlight new and interesting trends for 2017 and beyond. “Predicts 2017: Education Gets Personal” is focused on several SPAs, each uniquely contributing to the foundation needed to create the digitalized education environments of the future. Organizations and institutions will require new strategies to leverage existing and new technologies to maximize benefits to the organization in fresh and
innovative ways.

  • By 2021, more than 30% of institutions will be forced to execute on a personalization strategy to maintain student enrollment.
  • By 2021, the top 100 higher education institutions will have to adopt AI technologies to stay competitive in research.

Artificial Intelligence
Business and IT leaders are stepping up to a broad range of opportunities enabled by AI, including autonomous vehicles, smart vision systems, virtual customer assistants, smart (personal) agents and natural-language processing. Gartner believes that this new general-purpose technology is just beginning a 75-year technology cycle that will have far-reaching implications for every industry. In “Predicts 2017: Artificial Intelligence,” we reflect on the near-term opportunities, and the potential burdens and risks that organizations face in exploiting AI. AI is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services.

Practical strategies for employing AI and choosing the right vendors are available to data and analytics leaders right now.

  • By 2019, more than 10% of IT hires in customer service will mostly write scripts for bot interactions.
  • Through 2020, organizations using cognitive ergonomics and system design in new AI projects will achieve long-term success four times more often than others.
  • By 2020, 20% of companies will dedicate workers to monitor and guide neural networks.
  • By 2019, startups will overtake Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft in driving the AI economy with disruptive business solutions.
  • By 2019, AI platform services will cannibalize revenues for 30% of market-leading companies. “Predicts 2017: Drones”
  • By 2020, the top seven commercial drone manufacturers will all offer analytical software packages.
    “Predicts 2017: The Reinvention of Buying Behavior in Vertical-Industry Markets”
  • By 2021, 30% of net new revenue growth from industry-specific solutions will include AI technology.

Advanced Analytics and Data Science
Advanced analytics and data science are fast becoming mainstream solutions and competencies in most organizations, even supplanting traditional BI and analytics resources and budgets. They allow more types of knowledge and insights to be extracted from data. To become and remain competitive, enterprises must seek to adopt advanced analytics, and adapt their business models, establish specialist data science teams and rethink their overall strategies to keep pace with the competition. “Predicts 2017: Analytics Strategy and Technology” offers advice on overall strategy, approach and operational transformation to algorithmic business that leadership needs to build to reap the benefits.

  • By 2018, deep learning (deep neural networks [DNNs]) will be a standard component in 80% of data scientists’ tool boxes.
  • By 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated, resulting in increased productivity and broader usage by citizen data scientists.
  • By 2019, natural-language generation will be a standard feature of 90% of modern BI and analytics platforms.
  • By 2019, 50% of analytics queries will be generated using search, natural-language query or voice, or will be autogenerated.
  • By 2019, citizen data scientists will surpass data scientists in the amount of advanced analysis
    produced.

 

 

By 2020, 95% of video/image content will never be viewed by humans; instead, it will be vetted by machines that provide some degree of automated analysis.

 

 

Through 2020, lack of data science professionals will inhibit 75% of organizations from achieving the full potential of IoT.

 

 

 

 

Amazon and Codecademy team up for free Alexa skills training — from venturebeat.com by Khari Johnson

Excerpt:

Amazon and tech training app Codecademy have collaborated to create a series of free courses. Available today, the courses are meant to train developers as well as beginners how to create skills, the voice apps that interact with Alexa.

Since opening Alexa to third-party developers in 2015, more than 20,000 skills have been made available in the Alexa Skills Store.

 

 

 

 

Ikea’s New App Flaunts What You’ll Love Most About AR — from wired.com by Arielle Pardes

Excerpt:

Tap through the app’s catalogue of over 2,000 products—nearly the company’s full collection of umlauted sofas, armchairs, coffee tables, and storage units—then hold up your phone and use the camera to place the digital furniture anywhere in a room. Want to see how the Strandmon winged chair looks by the window? Done. Can you really squeeze in that 7-foot-long area rug? Open the app, point your camera at the floor, and watch it appear at scale. You can even place a futon where it would go in the guest room, then see what it looks like when it unfolds into a bed.

Ikea built the app with Apple’s ARKit, a developer toolkit created to usher in the augmented reality revolution on iOS devices. The app is free and available now, as long as your iPhone is updated to iOS 11.

.

 

 

 

Every ARKit app you can install right now — from imore.com by Russell Holly

Excerpt:

One of the biggest features to come to iOS 11 is ARKit, enabling developers to open up your world to a whole new kind of gaming and discovery system. Instead of being limited to the screen, you can play on surfaces big and small and you can play with others. The only thing limiting you right now is not knowing which ARKit apps are out there right now, so you can dive in and see which apps are your new favorite.

Searching Apple’s massive App Store can take a long time, so we’ve compiled a big friendly list for you to pick out the real winners!

 

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About Augmented Reality Now That It’s Invading Your Phone — from fieldguide.gizmodo.com by David Nield

Excerpt:

The majority of these apps are still at the demo stage for now, but it’s not difficult to see the potential. Games can take place in the real world, whether that’s on your living room floor or around your neighborhood, while you’ll be able to imagine anything from a new sofa to a new house extension through your phone’s camera.

Further down the line you’ll be able to point your phone at anything and get information overlaid about what you’re seeing with a whole new level of accuracy—the distance to the pin on a golf course, the current stats for players out on a baseball field, or precise directions to the store you need in the mall you’ve just got lost in. You can measure distances, land a rocket in your backyard, and so much more.

Of course AR (or “mixed reality”) headsets are going to provide a much more immersive experience and are a more natural fit than having to hold your phone or tablet in front of you to see anything in AR land. Until those headsets hit the mainstream though, ARKit and ARCore are about to introduce millions of people to the potential of augmented reality. Instead of looking down at your phone you’re going to be holding it up to access all the information of the internet with a swipe.

 

 

 

Amazon working on Alexa-powered smart glasses, says report — from theverge.com by Sam Byford
And a home security camera

Excerpt:

Amazon’s first wearable device will be a pair of smart glasses with the Alexa voice assistant built in, according to a report in the Financial Times. The device will reportedly look like a regular pair of glasses and use bone-conduction technology so that the user can hear Alexa without the need for earphones or conventional speakers. It won’t, however, likely have a screen or camera, although Google Glass founder Babak Parviz has apparently been working on the project following his hiring by Amazon in 2014.

 

 

 

What does Google want with HTC’s smartphone business? — from theguardian.com by Samuel Gibbs
Google is acquiring a $1bn chunk of HTC’s smartphone arm, including 2,000 employees and access to intellectual property, as it bets big on hardware

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Google has announced it’s acquiring a $1.1bn chunk of HTC’s smartphone business, and with it providing the once leading Taiwanese phone brand a much needed lifeline. But what does Google want with part of a smartphone business?

Google isn’t buying the whole of HTC, just a relatively large part of the Taipei-based company’s smartphone business and not its Vive virtual reality headset business. Google gains half of HTC’s research and development team – about 2,000 people – and a non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property, allowing it to take advantage of some of HTC’s advances in smartphone technology.

HTC gets a cash injection, which will help it survive in some very competitive markets, and Google gets to continue its “big bet on hardware” according to Rick Osterloh, the company’s senior vice president for hardware.

It’s “a business decision to have access to one of the best R&D teams”, said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research. But it’s also “a sort of emotional decision to save its close partners”.

 

 

 

The Washington Post enhances in-app augmented reality experience — from washingtonpost.com

Excerpt:

The Washington Post today announced the launch of its first embedded augmented reality story. The Post built an industry-first embed code that lets users trigger an augmented reality experience with 3D visuals and audio narration.

“We were excited to be the first news publisher to support augmented reality in a news application, but for our second iteration in our iconic building series we needed to make augmented reality even simpler,” said Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at The Post. “We’ve been working to reduce the friction to make augmented reality as easily accessible as a photo gallery or a video—those are played inline and augmented reality should be too.”

 

 

 

After Successful Pilot Testing Ford Is Expanding Its HoloLens Program — from uploadvr.com by Jamie Feltham

 

 

Excerpt:

You can get a sense for what this expansion means in the video below. Ford has already been using HoloLens to help design new cars; bringing 3D models into the real world using the augmented reality headset. Now, however, the company is introducing new processes, like overlaying new features onto existing car models and creating guided tours of cars using voice recording. The company also says it’s developing new apps for better collaboration in AR.

 

 

 

 

Amazon’s Alexa is finally coming to wearable devices for the first time — from yahoo.com by Peter Newman

Excerpt:

Manufacturers have thus far incorporated the voice assistant into speakers, phones, thermostats, and more — but being incorporated into a wearable device is a first for Alexa.

The headphones will let users tap a button to launch the voice assistant, which will connect to the device through the user’s mobile phone and the Bragi app. They will let a wearer engage with the voice assistant while on the go, searching for basic information, shopping for goods on Amazon, or calling for a vehicle from ride-hailing services like Uber, among other possibilities. While all of these capabilities are already possible using a phone, enabling hands-free voice control brings a new level of convenience.

 

 


 

 

 

Amazon’s TenMarks releases a new curriculum for educators that teaches kids writing using digital assistants, text messaging and more — from techcrunch.com by Sarah Perez

Excerpt:

Amazon is expanding its efforts in the education technology space [on 8/23/17] with the launch of a new curriculum from TenMarks, the company it acquired several years ago which previously only focused on math lessons and related activities. Now, the business is offering an online curriculum for teachers designed to help students learn how to be better writers. The program includes a writing coach that leverages natural language processing, a variety of resources for teachers, and something called “bursts,” which are short writing prompts kids will be familiar with because of their use of mobile apps.

These bursts, which can be used by teachers as warm-ups or supplemental activities, make writing seem less intimidating for students, as they’re similar to what kids might do online or on their smartphones.

TenMarks is only one way that Amazon is aiming to insert itself into the classroom. The company also runs Amazon Inspire, still in beta, a collection of K-12 curriculum resources. Currently, educators can browse the content library and download those they want to use, but a sharing feature that will support uploads is soon to launch.

 

 

 

 

Artificial intelligence will transform universities. Here’s how. — from weforum.org by Mark Dodgson & David Gann

Excerpt:

The most innovative AI breakthroughs, and the companies that promote them – such as DeepMind, Magic Pony, Aysadi, Wolfram Alpha and Improbable – have their origins in universities. Now AI will transform universities.

We believe AI is a new scientific infrastructure for research and learning that universities will need to embrace and lead, otherwise they will become increasingly irrelevant and eventually redundant.

Through their own brilliant discoveries, universities have sown the seeds of their own disruption. How they respond to this AI revolution will profoundly reshape science, innovation, education – and society itself.

As AI gets more powerful, it will not only combine knowledge and data as instructed, but will search for combinations autonomously. It can also assist collaboration between universities and external parties, such as between medical research and clinical practice in the health sector.

The implications of AI for university research extend beyond science and technology.

When it comes to AI in teaching and learning, many of the more routine academic tasks (and least rewarding for lecturers), such as grading assignments, can be automated. Chatbots, intelligent agents using natural language, are being developed by universities such as the Technical University of Berlin; these will answer questions from students to help plan their course of studies.

Virtual assistants can tutor and guide more personalized learning. As part of its Open Learning Initiative (OLI), Carnegie Mellon University has been working on AI-based cognitive tutors for a number of years. It found that its OLI statistics course, run with minimal instructor contact, resulted in comparable learning outcomes for students with fewer hours of study. In one course at the Georgia Institute of Technology, students could not tell the difference between feedback from a human being and a bot.

 

 

Also see:

Digital audio assistants in teaching and learning — from blog.blackboard.com by Szymon Machajewski

Excerpts:

I built an Amazon Alexa skill called Introduction to Computing Flashcards. In using the skill, or Amazon Alexa app, students are able to listen to Alexa and then answer questions. Alexa helps students prepare for an exam by speaking definitions and then waiting for their identification. In addition to quizzing the student, Alexa is also keeping track of the correct answers. If a student answers five questions correctly, Alexa shares a game code, which is worth class experience points in the course gamification My Game app.

Certainly, exam preparation apps are one way to use digital assistants in education. As development and publishing of Amazon Alexa skills becomes easier, faculty will be able to produce such skills just as easily as they now create PowerPoints. Given the basic code available through Amazon tutorials, it takes 20 minutes to create a new exam preparation app. Basic voice experience Amazon Alexa skills can take as much as five minutes to complete.

Universities can publish their campus news through the Alexa Flash Briefing. This type of a skill can publish news, success stories, and other events associated with the campus.

If you are a faculty member, how can you develop your first Amazon Alexa skill? You can use any of the tutorials already available. You can also participate in an Amazon Alexa classroom training provided by Alexa Dev Days. It is possible that schools or maker spaces near you offer in-person developer sessions. You can use meetup.com to track these opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Business of Artificial Intelligence — from hbr.org by Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

The most important general-purpose technology of our era is artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning (ML) — that is, the machine’s ability to keep improving its performance without humans having to explain exactly how to accomplish all the tasks it’s given. Within just the past few years machine learning has become far more effective and widely available. We can now build systems that learn how to perform tasks on their own.

Why is this such a big deal? Two reasons. First, we humans know more than we can tell: We can’t explain exactly how we’re able to do a lot of things — from recognizing a face to making a smart move in the ancient Asian strategy game of Go. Prior to ML, this inability to articulate our own knowledge meant that we couldn’t automate many tasks. Now we can.

Second, ML systems are often excellent learners. They can achieve superhuman performance in a wide range of activities, including detecting fraud and diagnosing disease. Excellent digital learners are being deployed across the economy, and their impact will be profound.

In the sphere of business, AI is poised have a transformational impact, on the scale of earlier general-purpose technologies. Although it is already in use in thousands of companies around the world, most big opportunities have not yet been tapped. The effects of AI will be magnified in the coming decade, as manufacturing, retailing, transportation, finance, health care, law, advertising, insurance, entertainment, education, and virtually every other industry transform their core processes and business models to take advantage of machine learning. The bottleneck now is in management, implementation, and business imagination.

The machine learns from examples, rather than being explicitly programmed for a particular outcome.

 

Let’s start by exploring what AI is already doing and how quickly it is improving. The biggest advances have been in two broad areas: perception and cognition. …For instance, Aptonomy and Sanbot, makers respectively of drones and robots, are using improved vision systems to automate much of the work of security guards. 

 

 

Machine learning is driving changes at three levels: tasks and occupations, business processes, and business models. 

 

 

You may have noticed that Facebook and other apps now recognize many of your friends’ faces in posted photos and prompt you to tag them with their names.

 

 

 

Amazon’s Alexa passes 15,000 skills, up from 10,000 in February — from techcrunch.com by Sarah Perez

Excerpt:

Amazon’s Alexa voice platform has now passed 15,000 skills — the voice-powered apps that run on devices like the Echo speaker, Echo Dot, newer Echo Show and others. The figure is up from the 10,000 skills Amazon officially announced back in February, which had then represented a 3x increase from September.

The new 15,000 figure was first reported via third-party analysis from Voicebot, and Amazon has now confirmed to TechCrunch that the number is accurate.

According to Voicebot, which only analyzed skills in the U.S., the milestone was reached for the first time on June 30, 2017. During the month of June, new skill introductions increased by 23 percent, up from the less than 10 percent growth that was seen in each of the prior three months.

The milestone also represents a more than doubling of the number of skills that were available at the beginning of the year, when Voicebot reported there were then 7,000 skills. That number was officially confirmed by Amazon at CES.

 

 


From DSC:
Again, I wonder…what are the implications for learning from this new, developing platform?


 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian