Google’s robot assistant now makes eerily lifelike phone calls for you — from theguardian.com by Olivia Solon
Google Duplex contacts hair salon and restaurant in demo, adding ‘er’ and ‘mmm-hmm’ so listeners think it’s human

Excerpt:

Google’s virtual assistant can now make phone calls on your behalf to schedule appointments, make reservations in restaurants and get holiday hours.

The robotic assistant uses a very natural speech pattern that includes hesitations and affirmations such as “er” and “mmm-hmm” so that it is extremely difficult to distinguish from an actual human phone call.

The unsettling feature, which will be available to the public later this year, is enabled by a technology called Google Duplex, which can carry out “real world” tasks on the phone, without the other person realising they are talking to a machine. The assistant refers to the person’s calendar to find a suitable time slot and then notifies the user when an appointment is scheduled.

 

 

Google employees quit over the company’s military AI project — from thenextweb.com by Tristan Greene

Excerpt:

About a dozen Google employees reportedly left the company over its insistence on developing AI for the US military through a program called Project Maven. Meanwhile 4,000 others signed a petition demanding the company stop.

It looks like there’s some internal confusion over whether the company’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto covers making machine learning systems to aid warfare.

 

 

 

The link between big tech and defense work — from wired.com by Nitasha Tiku

Except:

FOR MONTHS, A growing faction of Google employees has tried to force the company to drop out of a controversial military program called Project Maven. More than 4,000 employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a petition asking Google to cancel the contract. Last week, Gizmodo reported that a dozen employees resigned over the project. “There are a bunch more waiting for job offers (like me) before we do so,” one engineer says. On Friday, employees communicating through an internal mailing list discussed refusing to interview job candidates in order to slow the project’s progress.

Other tech giants have recently secured high-profile contracts to build technology for defense, military, and intelligence agencies. In March, Amazon expanded its newly launched “Secret Region” cloud services supporting top-secret work for the Department of Defense. The same week that news broke of the Google resignations, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft locked down a deal with intelligence agencies. But there’s little sign of the same kind of rebellion among Amazon and Microsoft workers.

 

 

Amazon urged not to sell facial recognition tool to police — from wpxi.com by Gene Johnson

Excerpt:

Facebook SEATTLE (AP) – The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency – the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon – to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.

 

 

From DSC:
Google’s C-Suite — as well as the C-Suites at Microsoft, Amazon, and other companies — needs to be very careful these days, as they could end up losing the support/patronage of a lot of people — including more of their own employees. It’s not an easy task to know how best to build and use technologies in order to make the world a better place…to create a dream vs. a nightmare for our future. But just because we can build something, doesn’t mean we should.

 

 

The Complete Guide to Conversational Commerce | Everything you need to know. — from chatbotsmagazine.com by Matt Schlicht

Excerpt:

What is conversational commerce? Why is it such a big opportunity? How does it work? What does the future look like? How can I get started? These are the questions I’m going to answer for you right now.

The guide covers:

  • An introduction to conversational commerce.
  • Why conversational commerce is such a big opportunity.
  • Complete breakdown of how conversational commerce works.
  • Extensive examples of conversational commerce using chatbots and voicebots.
  • How artificial intelligence impacts conversational commerce.
  • What the future of conversational commerce will look like.

 

Definition: Conversational commerce is an automated technology, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that enables online shoppers and brands to interact with one another via chat and voice interfaces.

 

 

 

Notes from the AI frontier: Applications and value of deep learning — from mckinsey.com by Michael Chui, James Manyika, Mehdi Miremadi, Nicolaus Henke, Rita Chung, Pieter Nel, and Sankalp Malhotra

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence (AI) stands out as a transformational technology of our digital age—and its practical application throughout the economy is growing apace. For this briefing, Notes from the AI frontier: Insights from hundreds of use cases (PDF–446KB), we mapped both traditional analytics and newer “deep learning” techniques and the problems they can solve to more than 400 specific use cases in companies and organizations. Drawing on McKinsey Global Institute research and the applied experience with AI of McKinsey Analytics, we assess both the practical applications and the economic potential of advanced AI techniques across industries and business functions. Our findings highlight the substantial potential of applying deep learning techniques to use cases across the economy, but we also see some continuing limitations and obstacles—along with future opportunities as the technologies continue their advance. Ultimately, the value of AI is not to be found in the models themselves, but in companies’ abilities to harness them.

It is important to highlight that, even as we see economic potential in the use of AI techniques, the use of data must always take into account concerns including data security, privacy, and potential issues of bias.

  1. Mapping AI techniques to problem types
  2. Insights from use cases
  3. Sizing the potential value of AI
  4. The road to impact and value

 

 

 

AI for Good — from re-work.co by Ali Shah, Head of Emerging Technology and Strategic Direction – BBC

 

 

 

Algorithms are making the same mistakes assessing credit scores that humans did a century ago — from qz.com by Rachel O’Dwyer

 

 

 

 

Educause Releases 2018 Horizon Report Preview — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

After acquiring the rights to the New Media Consortium’s Horizon project earlier this year, Educause has now published a preview of the 2018 Higher Education Edition of the Horizon Report — research that was in progress at the time of NMC’s sudden dissolution. The report covers the key technology trends, challenges and developments expected to impact higher ed in the short-, mid- and long-term future.

 

Also see:

 

 

 

An AI Bot for the Teacher — with thanks to Karthik Reddy for this resource

Artificial intelligence is the stuff of science fiction – if you are old enough, you will remember those Terminator movies a good few years ago, where mankind was systematically being wiped out by computers.

The truth is that AI, though not quite at Terminator level yet, is already a fact and something that most of us have encountered already. If you have ever used the virtual assistant on your phone or the Ask Google feature, you have used AI.

Some companies are using it as part of their sales and marketing strategies. An interesting example is Lowe’s Home Improvement that, instead of chatbots, uses actual robots into their physical stores. These robots are capable of helping customers locate products that they’re interested in, taking a lot of the guesswork out of the entire shopping experience.

Of course, there are a lot of different potential applications for AI that are very interesting. Imagine an AI teaching assistant, for example. They could help grade papers, fact check and assist with lesson planning, etc., all to make our harassed teachers’ lives a little easier.

Chatbots could be programmed as tutors to help kids better understand core topics if they are struggling with them, ensuring that they don’t hold the rest of the class up. And, for kids who have a real affinity with the subject, help them learn more about what they are interested in.

It could also help enhance long distance training.  Imagine if your students could get instant answers to basic questions through a simple chatbot. Sure, if they were still not getting it, they would come through to you – the chatbot cannot replace a real, live, teacher after all. But it could save you a lot of time and frustration.

Here, of course, we have only skimmed the surface of what artificial intelligence is capable of. Why not look through this infographic to see how different brands have been using this tech, and see what possible applications of it we might expect.

 

Brands that use AI to enhance marketing (infographic) 2018
From 16best.net with thanks to Karthik Reddy for this resource

 

 

 

From DSC:
Check out the 2 items below regarding the use of voice as it pertains to using virtual assistants: 1 involves healthcare and the other involves education (Canvas).


1) Using Alexa to go get information from Canvas:

“Alexa Ask Canvas…”

Example questions as a student:

  • What grades am I getting in my courses?
  • What am I missing?

Example question as a teacher:

  • How many submissions do I need to grade?

See the section on asking Alexa questions…roughly between http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-30ixK63zE &t=38m18s through http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-30ixK63zE &t=46m42s

 

 

 

 


 

2) Why voice assistants are gaining traction in healthcare — from samsungnext.com by Pragati Verma

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The majority of intelligent voice assistant platforms today are built around smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. But that might change soon, as several specialized devices focused on the health market are slated to be released this year.

One example is ElliQ, an elder care assistant robot from Samsung NEXT portfolio company Intuition Robotics. Powered by AI cognitive technology, it encourages an active and engaged lifestyle. Aimed at older adults aging in place, it can recognizing their activity level and suggest activities, while also making it easier to connect with loved ones.

Pillo is an example of another such device. It is a robot that combines machine learning, facial recognition, video conferencing, and automation to work as a personal health assistant. It can dispense vitamins and medication, answer health and wellness questions in a conversational manner, securely sync with a smartphone and wearables, and allow users to video conference with health care professionals.

“It is much more than a smart speaker. It is HIPAA compliant and it recognizes the user; acknowledges them and delivers care plans,” said Rogers, whose company created the voice interface for the platform.

Orbita is now working with toSense’s remote monitoring necklace to track vitals and cardiac fluids as a way to help physicians monitor patients remotely. Many more seem to be on their way.

“Be prepared for several more devices like these to hit the market soon,” Rogers predicted.

 

 


From DSC:

I see the piece about Canvas and Alexa as a great example of where a piece of our future learning ecosystems are heading towards — in fact, it’s been a piece of my Learning from the Living [Class] Room vision for a while now. The use of voice recognition/NLP is only picking up steam; look for more of this kind of functionality in the future. 

 

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

 


 

 

 

AI Helps Figure Out Where Students Go Wrong on Math Problems — from steamuniverse.com by Joshua Bolkan

Excerpt:

Researchers at Cornell University are working on software that will help math teachers understand what their students were thinking that led them to finding incorrect answers.

Erik Andersen, assistant professor of computer science at Cornell, said that teachers spend a lot of time grading math homework because grading is more complicated than just marking an answer as right or wrong.

“What the teachers are spending a lot of time doing is assigning partial credit and working individually to figure out what students are doing wrong,” Andersen said in a prepared statement. “We envision a future in which educators spend less time trying to reconstruct what their students are thinking and more time working directly with their students.”

 

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 
 

2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.

Description:

The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader

 


 

01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?

 


 

 

From DSC:
After seeing the article entitled, “Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper,” I began to wonder…might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule & provide practice tests & distributed practice on content? In the future, will there be “learning bots” that a learner can employ to do such self-testing and/or distributed practice?

 

 

From page 45 of the PDF available here:

 

Might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule/provide practice tests & distributed practice on content?

 

 

 

Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper — from technologyreview.com by Jamie Condliffe
Amazon’s voice-activated assistant follows a rich tradition of researchers using consumer tech in unintended ways to further their work.

Excerpt:

Alexa, what’s the next step in my titration?

Probably not the first question you ask your smart assistant in the morning, but potentially the kind of query that scientists may soon be leveling at Amazon’s AI helper. Chemical & Engineering News reports that software developer James Rhodes—whose wife, DeLacy Rhodes, is a microbiologist—has created a skill for Alexa called Helix that lends a helping hand around the laboratory.

It makes sense. While most people might ask Alexa to check the news headlines, play music, or set a timer because our hands are a mess from cooking, scientists could look up melting points, pose simple calculations, or ask for an experimental procedure to be read aloud while their hands are gloved and in use.

For now, Helix is still a proof-of-concept. But you can sign up to try an early working version, and Rhodes has plans to extend its abilities…

 

Also see:

Helix

 

 

Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom

Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom — from gettingsmart.com by Erin Gohl

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Teaching is truly a Herculean challenge. Even the very best teachers can keep only so many of these insights in their heads and make only so many connections between expectations and circumstances. They can be aware of only a fraction of the research on best practices. They have only so much time to collaborate and communicate with the other adults in a particular student’s life to share information and insights. To be the best of themselves, teachers need to have access to a warehouse of information, a research assistant to mine best practices, note takers to gather and record information on each student, a statistician to gauge effective practices, and someone to collaborate with to distill the next best step with each student. In recent years, a plethora of vendors have developed software solutions that promise to simplify this process and give schools and teachers the answers to understand and address the individual needs of each student. One of the most promising, which I recently had a chance to learn about, is IBM’s Watson Classroom.

IBM is clear about what makes Watson different than existing solutions. First of all, it is a cognitive partner; not a solution. Secondly, it does not require proprietary or additional assessments, curriculum, or content. It uses whatever a district has in place. But it goes beyond the performance of tiering difficulty, pace, and reading level that is now standard fare for the solutions promising individualized, adaptive and personalized learning. Watson takes the stew of data from existing systems (including assessments, attendance records, available accommodations), adds the ability to infer meaning from written reports, and is able to connect the quality of the result to the approach that was taken. And then adjust the next recommendation based on what was learned. It is artificial intelligence (AI) brought to education that goes far beyond the adaptive learning technologies of today.

Watson Classroom is currently being piloted in 12 school districts across the country. In those classrooms, Watson Classroom is utilizing cutting-edge computing power to give teachers a full range of support to be the best versions of themselves. Watson is facilitating the kind of education the great teachers strive for every day–one where learning is truly personalized for each and every student. Bringing the power of big data to the interactions between students and teachers can help assure that every student reaches beyond our expectations to achieve their full potential.

 

 

 

Learn with Google AI: Making ML education available to everyone — from blog.google

Excerpt:

To help everyone understand how AI can solve challenging problems, we’ve created a resource called Learn with Google AI. This site provides ways to learn about core ML concepts, develop and hone your ML skills, and apply ML to real-world problems. From deep learning experts looking for advanced tutorials and materials on TensorFlow, to “curious cats” who want to take their first steps with AI, anyone looking for educational content from ML experts at Google can find it here.

Learn with Google AI also features a new, free course called Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC). The course provides exercises, interactive visualizations, and instructional videos that anyone can use to learn and practice ML concepts.

 

 

7 Ways Chatbots and AI are Disrupting HR — from chatbotsmagazine.com
Enterprises are embracing AI for automating human resources

Excerpt:

Chatbots and AI have become household names and enterprises are taking notice. According to a recent Forrester survey, roughly “85% of customer interactions within an enterprise will be with software robots in five years’ time” and “87% of CEOs are looking to expand their AI workforce” using AI bots.

In an effort to drive increased labor efficiencies, reduce costs, and deliver better customer/employee experiences enterprises are quickly introducing AI, machine learning, and natural language understanding as core elements of their digital transformation strategy in 2018.

Human resources (HR) is one area ripe for intelligent automation within an enterprise. AI-powered bots for HR are able to streamline and personalize the HR process across seasonal, temporary, part-time, and full-time employees.


There are 7 ways in which enterprises can use HR bots to drive increased labors efficiencies, reduced costs, and better employee experiences:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Onboarding
  3. Company Policy FAQs
  4. Employee Training
  5. Common Questions
  6. Benefits Enrollment
  7. Annual Self-Assessment/Reviews

 

From DSC:
Again, this article paint a bit too rosy of a picture for me re: the use of AI and HR, especially in regards to recruiting employees.

 

 

 

Implementation of AI into eLearning. Interview with Christopher Pappas — from joomlalms.com by Darya Tarliuk

Excerpt:

Every day we hear more and more about the impact that Artificial Intelligence gains in every sphere of our life. In order to discover how AI implementation is going to change the eLearning we decided to ask Christopher Pappas to share his views and find out what he thinks about it. Christopher is an experienced eLearning specialist and the Founder of the eLearning Industry’s Network.


How to get ready preparing course materials now, while considering the future impact of AI?
Christopher: Regardless of whether you plan to adopt an AI system as soon as they’re available to the mass market or you opt to hold off (and let others work out the glitches), infrastructure is key. You can prepare your course materials now by developing course catalogs, microlearning online training repositories, and personalized online training paths that fall into the AI framework. For example, the AI system can easily recommend existing resources based on a learners’ assessment scores or job duties. All of the building blocks are in place, allowing the system to focus on content delivery and data analysis.

 

 

 

Can You Trust Intelligent Virtual Assistants? — from nojitter.com by Gary Audin
From malicious hackers to accidental voice recordings, data processed through virtual assistants may open you to security and privacy risks.

Excerpt:

Did you know that with such digital assistants your voice data is sent to the cloud or another remote location for processing? Is it safe to talk in front of your TV remote? Are you putting your business data at risk of being compromised by asking Alexa to start your meeting?

 


 

 

 

Thanks, Robots! Now These Four Non-Tech Job Skills Are In Demand — from fastcompany.com by Christian Madsbjerg
The more we rely on AI and machine learning, the more work we need social scientists and humanities experts to do.

Excerpt:

Automation isn’t a simple struggle between people and technology, with the two sides competing for jobs. The more we rely on robots, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, the clearer it’s become just how much we need social scientists and humanities experts–not the reverse.

These four skills in particular are all unique to us humans, and will arguably rise in value in the coming years, as more and more companies realize they need the best of both worlds to unleash the potential from both humans and machines.

 

 

 

 

 

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