Microsoft and Intel unite to bring blockchain to businesses with Coco Framework – from digitaltrends.com by Lulu Chang

Excerpt:

You still may not know what bitcoin is, but soon, you could be working with the technology that powers the cryptocurrency. Intel and Microsoft are working together to bring blockchain into the workplace, and it’s all contingent on a new framework they’re calling Coco. Heralded as a first-of-its-kind innovation, the goal is to jumpstart widespread adoption, particularly among businesses, of blockchain technology. After all, blockchain allows for secure and speedy transactions, which are key to many modern businesses.

As Microsoft noted in a news release, the Coco Framework is meant to reduce the complexity currently associated with blockchain protocol technology. As such, the company notes, the framework could pave the way for “more complex, real-world blockchain scenarios across industries — like financial services, supply chain and logistics, healthcare and retail — further proving blockchain’s potential to digitally transform business.”

 

Blockchain technology may seem a bit foreign to most, but Microsoft and Intel are hoping to bring it to businesses around the world.

 

 

 

The Platform Chronicles: 10 Questions with Phil Komarny, Chief Digital Officer at the Institute for Transformational Learning at UTx — from medium.com by Bruce Richardson
On the first blockchain app on Salesforce and the pursuit of lifelong learning

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Welcome to the The Platform Chronicles, a new publication designed to introduce readers to some of the most innovative partners that have developed applications on the Salesforce platform. This issue focuses on Phil Komarny and UTx’s plans to dramatically change Higher Ed.

Question #1
Phil, Can you tell us more about the University of Texas’ Institute for Transformational Learning and its relationship with Salesforce?

At the Institute for Transformational Learning we are charged with developing technologies that will power the delivery of educational experiences for our 215,000 students. Though this work we have created a platform that leverages a persistent profile of each of our learners. The platform, Totelic, also has the potential to integrate with each of our 14 campuses student information and learning management systems.

Thinking deeply about the learner’s lifelong journey, we also created a data model that places the learner at the center of the experience. Using Salesforce as our CRM we are afforded a 360-degree view of each learner. The data that resides in many siloed data stores on every campus today has now been wrapped around each learner to create a digital reflection of their abilities and goals.

 

A quick insert of a graphic from DSC:

 

 

Instead of replacing the ERP systems, we enhance them with our integrations so that each of our campuses has an innovation engine at their disposal. Creating new experiences for learners like modular certificates that stack toward a larger credential over time is now a reality for our campus partners.

(Editor’s note: Totelic was created by the UTX Institute for Transformational Learning, and is a “Learner Relationship Management” (LRM) system?—?that is basically a learning environment-agnostic dashboard that monitors a learner’s progress through any connected learning experience, e.g., a 3-credit course taught in Blackboard or a Salesforce Trailhead module. It normalizes the data stream and feeds a few algorithms that provide motivational guidance and track pace, progress and overall performance. It also has an integrated service model that leverages Salesforce communities to provide connection for everything from mentoring to events.)


Blockchains are being used for many things today. From crypto currency to tracking shipping containers and diamonds, the immutability, security and validity of this distributed data store create a new way to think through our current business process, policies and laws of any enterprise.

At a recent event at MIT, The Business of Blockchain, I was stunned to see each vertical represented with one omission?—?education.

After reading Phillip Schmidt’s Medium post about work they were doing at the MIT Media Lab that would effectively store any fellow’s digital credential to a blockchain, I envisioned how that approach might work for our platform.

While on a hike, I was pondering the application and the ChainScript was born. This application would be able to provide every learner in our system a way to own, manage and share a record of their academic accomplishments by storing their information on a blockchain.

To validate this approach we have created our proof of concept as private blockchain to allow us to focus on the different applications of the technology before we take the solutions to a different fabric.

 

 

Microsoft is working on its own commercial blockchain framework, expected to arrive in 2018 — from geekwire.com by Tom Krazit

Excerpt:

Starting next year, Microsoft plans to release an open-source framework that will allow businesses to implement blockchain technologies as part of their business processes.

The project, known as the Coco Framework, aims to help companies use blockchain ledger technologies to facilitate transactions between customers, suppliers, or anyone with whom they do business. Coco Framework will work with any ledger protocol and can run on any cloud provider’s services or on on-premises servers, Microsoft representatives said. The company plans to release more details on its approach later on Thursday.

Blockchain is the underlying technology behind the Bitcoin digital currency, but it has lots of other potential uses that have technologists and venture capitalists excited. It allows users to keep a record of transactions (or really anything that transpires between different entities) in a secure, decentralized “ledger.” Think of it like a database that isn’t tied to a server or public cloud, but rather a cascade of data points that work together to continuously update and verify a record of activity.

 

 

 

The Truth About Blockchain — from hbr.org by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani

Excerpt:

The parallels between blockchain and TCP/IP are clear. Just as e-mail enabled bilateral messaging, bitcoin enables bilateral financial transactions. The development and maintenance of blockchain is open, distributed, and shared—just like TCP/IP’s. A team of volunteers around the world maintains the core software. And just like e-mail, bitcoin first caught on with an enthusiastic but relatively small community.

TCP/IP unlocked new economic value by dramatically lowering the cost of connections. Similarly, blockchain could dramatically reduce the cost of transactions. It has the potential to become the system of record for all transactions. If that happens, the economy will once again undergo a radical shift, as new, blockchain-based sources of influence and control emerge.*

* From DSC:
   “What if…?” comes to mind here…

 

In a blockchain system, the ledger is replicated in a large number of identical databases, each hosted and maintained by an interested party. When changes are entered in one copy, all the other copies are simultaneously updated. So as transactions occur, records of the value and assets exchanged are permanently entered in all ledgers. There is no need for third-party intermediaries to verify or transfer ownership. If a stock transaction took place on a blockchain-based system, it would be settled within seconds, securely and verifiably. (The infamous hacks that have hit bitcoin exchanges exposed weaknesses not in the blockchain itself but in separate systems linked to parties using the blockchain.)

 

 

 

Microsoft Is Working to Make Blockchain Faster and More Popular — from finance.yahoo.com and Reuters

Excerpt:

Microsoft is working on technology that it believes can make blockchain-based systems faster and more private, as it looks to speed up use of the distributed database software by enterprises.

The company said on Thursday that it had developed a system called Coco Framework, which connects to different blockchain networks to solve some of the issues that have slowed down their adoption, including speed and privacy concerns.

Coco, whose names stands for Confidential Consortium, will be ready and made open source by 2018, Microsoft said.

It is currently compatible with Ethereum, one of the most popular types of blockchains and can make it roughly 100 times faster, Microsoft said.

 

 

 

 



Addendum on 8/17/17:

 

 

 

 

Augmented Reality Technology: A student creates the closest thing yet to a magic ring — from forbes.com by Kevin Murnane

Excerpt:

Nat Martin set himself the problem of designing a control mechanism that can be used unobtrusively to meld AR displays with the user’s real-world environment. His solution was a controller in the shape of a ring that can be worn on the user’s finger. He calls it Scroll. It uses the ARKit software platform and contains an Arduino circuit board, a capacitive sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and a Softpot potentiometer. Scroll works with any AR device that supports the Unity game engine such as Google Cardboard or Microsoft’s Hololens.

 

Also see:

Scroll from Nat on Vimeo.

 

 


Addendum on 8/15/17:

New iOS 11 ARKit Demo Shows Off Drawing With Fingers In Augmented Reality [Video] — from redmondpie.com by Oliver Haslam |

Excerpt:

When Apple releases iOS 11 to the public next month, it will also release ARKit for the first time. The framework, designed to make bringing augmented reality to iOS a reality was first debuted during the opening keynote of WWDC 2017 when Apple announced iOS 11, and ever since then we have been seeing new concepts and demos be released by developers.

Those developers have given us a glimpse of what we can expect when apps taking advantage of ARKit start to ship alongside iOS 11, and the latest of those is a demonstration in which someone’s finger is used to draw on a notepad.

 


 

 

 

Winner takes all — from by Michael Moe, Luben Pampoulov, Li Jiang, Nick Franco, & Suzee Han

 

We did a lot of things that seemed crazy at the time. Many of those crazy things now have over a billion users, like Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome, and Android.

— Larry Page, CEO, Alphabet

 

 

Excerpt:

An alphabet is a collection of letters that represent language. Alphabet, accordingly, is a collection of companies that represent the many bets Larry Page is making to ensure his platform is built to not only survive, but to thrive in a future defined by accelerating digital disruption. It’s an “Alpha” bet on a diversified platform of assets.

If you look closely, the world’s top technology companies are making similar bets.

 


 

 

Technology in general and the Internet in particular is all about a disproportionate gains to the leader in a category. Accordingly, as technology leaders like Facebook, Alphabet, and Amazon survey the competitive landscape, they have increasingly aimed to develop and acquire emerging technology capabilities across a broad range of complementary categories.

 

 

 

 

Accenture and Microsoft Create Blockchain Prototype for Identity — from which-50.com

Excerpt:

Accenture and Microsoft have created a prototype based on blockchain technology with the aim of creating a digital identity for 1.1 billion people around the world who don’t have a formal ID.

Approximately one-sixth of the world’s population cannot participate in cultural, political, economic and social life because they lack the most basic information: documented proof of their existence.

Establishing identity is critical to accessing a wide range of activities, including education, healthcare, voting, banking, mobile communications, housing, and family and childcare benefits.

The ID prototype, which builds on Accenture’s capabilities in blockchain and its experience developing and deploying large-scale biometric systems, runs on Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform.

Accenture and Microsoft demonstrated the prototype this week at the ID2020 Summit at the UN.

 

What a future, powerful, global learning platform will look & act like [Christian]


Learning from the Living [Class] Room:
A vision for a global, powerful, next generation learning platform

By Daniel Christian

NOTE: Having recently lost my Senior Instructional Designer position due to a staff reduction program, I am looking to help build such a platform as this. So if you are working on such a platform or know of someone who is, please let me know: danielchristian55@gmail.com.

I want to help people reinvent themselves quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively — while providing more choice, more control to lifelong learners. This will become critically important as artificial intelligence, robotics, algorithms, and automation continue to impact the workplace.


 

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

 

Learning from the Living [Class] Room:
A global, powerful, next generation learning platform

 

What does the vision entail?

  • A new, global, collaborative learning platform that offers more choice, more control to learners of all ages – 24×7 – and could become the organization that futurist Thomas Frey discusses here with Business Insider:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider.

  • A learner-centered platform that is enabled by – and reliant upon – human beings but is backed up by a powerful suite of technologies that work together in order to help people reinvent themselves quickly, conveniently, and extremely cost-effectively
  • An AI-backed system of analyzing employment trends and opportunities will highlight those courses and “streams of content” that will help someone obtain the most in-demand skills
  • A system that tracks learning and, via Blockchain-based technologies, feeds all completed learning modules/courses into learners’ web-based learner profiles
  • A learning platform that provides customized, personalized recommendation lists – based upon the learner’s goals
  • A platform that delivers customized, personalized learning within a self-directed course (meant for those content creators who want to deliver more sophisticated courses/modules while moving people through the relevant Zones of Proximal Development)
  • Notifications and/or inspirational quotes will be available upon request to help provide motivation, encouragement, and accountability – helping learners establish habits of continual, lifelong-based learning
  • (Potentially) An online-based marketplace, matching learners with teachers, professors, and other such Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • (Potentially) Direct access to popular job search sites
  • (Potentially) Direct access to resources that describe what other companies do/provide and descriptions of any particular company’s culture (as described by current and former employees and freelancers)

Further details:
While basic courses will be accessible via mobile devices, the optimal learning experience will leverage two or more displays/devices. So while smaller smartphones, laptops, and/or desktop workstations will be used to communicate synchronously or asynchronously with other learners, the larger displays will deliver an excellent learning environment for times when there is:

  • A Subject Matter Expert (SME) giving a talk or making a presentation on any given topic
  • A need to display multiple things going on at once, such as:
  • The SME(s)
  • An application or multiple applications that the SME(s) are using
  • Content/resources that learners are submitting in real-time (think Bluescape, T1V, Prysm, other)
  • The ability to annotate on top of the application(s) and point to things w/in the app(s)
  • Media being used to support the presentation such as pictures, graphics, graphs, videos, simulations, animations, audio, links to other resources, GPS coordinates for an app such as Google Earth, other
  • Other attendees (think Google Hangouts, Skype, Polycom, or other videoconferencing tools)
  • An (optional) representation of the Personal Assistant (such as today’s Alexa, Siri, M, Google Assistant, etc.) that’s being employed via the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This new learning platform will also feature:

  • Voice-based commands to drive the system (via Natural Language Processing (NLP))
  • Language translation (using techs similar to what’s being used in Translate One2One, an earpiece powered by IBM Watson)
  • Speech-to-text capabilities for use w/ chatbots, messaging, inserting discussion board postings
  • Text-to-speech capabilities as an assistive technology and also for everyone to be able to be mobile while listening to what’s been typed
  • Chatbots
    • For learning how to use the system
    • For asking questions of – and addressing any issues with – the organization owning the system (credentials, payments, obtaining technical support, etc.)
    • For asking questions within a course
  • As many profiles as needed per household
  • (Optional) Machine-to-machine-based communications to automatically launch the correct profile when the system is initiated (from one’s smartphone, laptop, workstation, and/or tablet to a receiver for the system)
  • (Optional) Voice recognition to efficiently launch the desired profile
  • (Optional) Facial recognition to efficiently launch the desired profile
  • (Optional) Upon system launch, to immediately return to where the learner previously left off
  • The capability of the webcam to recognize objects and bring up relevant resources for that object
  • A built in RSS feed aggregator – or a similar technology – to enable learners to tap into the relevant “streams of content” that are constantly flowing by them
  • Social media dashboards/portals – providing quick access to multiple sources of content and whereby learners can contribute their own “streams of content”

In the future, new forms of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) will be integrated into this new learning environment – providing entirely new means of collaborating with one another.

Likely players:

  • Amazon – personal assistance via Alexa
  • Apple – personal assistance via Siri
  • Google – personal assistance via Google Assistant; language translation
  • Facebook — personal assistance via M
  • Microsoft – personal assistance via Cortana; language translation
  • IBM Watson – cognitive computing; language translation
  • Polycom – videoconferencing
  • Blackboard – videoconferencing, application sharing, chat, interactive whiteboard
  • T1V, Prsym, and/or Bluescape – submitting content to a digital canvas/workspace
  • Samsung, Sharp, LCD, and others – for large displays with integrated microphones, speakers, webcams, etc.
  • Feedly – RSS aggregator
  • _________ – for providing backchannels
  • _________ – for tools to create videocasts and interactive videos
  • _________ – for blogs, wikis, podcasts, journals
  • _________ – for quizzes/assessments
  • _________ – for discussion boards/forums
  • _________ – for creating AR, MR, and/or VR-based content

 

 

From DSC:
In reviewing the item below, I wondered:

How should students — as well as Career Services Groups/Departments within institutions of higher education — respond to the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in peoples’ job searches?

My take on it? Each student needs to have a solid online-based footprint — such as offering one’s own streams of content via a WordPress-based blog, one’s Twitter account, and one’s LinkedIn account. That is, each student has to be out there digitally, not just physically. (Though I suspect having face-to-face conversations and interactions will always be an incredibly powerful means of obtaining jobs as well. But if this trend picks up steam, one’s online-based footprint becomes all the more important to finding work.)

 




How AI is changing your job hunt
 — from by Jennifer Alsever

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The solution appeared in the form of artificial intelligence software from a young company called Interviewed. It speeds the vetting process by providing online simulations of what applicants might do on their first day as an employee. The software does much more than grade multiple-choice questions. It can capture not only so-called book knowledge but also more intangible human qualities. It uses natural-language processing and machine learning to construct a psychological profile that predicts whether a person will fit a company’s culture. That includes assessing which words he or she favors—a penchant for using “please” and “thank you,” for example, shows empathy and a possible disposition for working with customers—and measuring how well the applicant can juggle conversations and still pay attention to detail. “We can look at 4,000 candidates and within a few days whittle it down to the top 2% to 3%,” claims Freedman, whose company now employs 45 people. “Forty-eight hours later, we’ve hired someone.” It’s not perfect, he says, but it’s faster and better than the human way.

It isn’t just startups using such software; corporate behemoths are implementing it too. Artificial intelligence has come to hiring.

Predictive algorithms and machine learning are fast emerging as tools to identify the best candidates.

 

 



Addendum on 6/7/17:

 

 

 



Addendum on 6/15/17:

  • Want a job? It may be time to have a chat with a bot — from sfchronicle.com by Nicholas Cheng
    Excerpt:
    “The future is AI-based recruitment,” Mya CEO Eyal Grayevsky said. Candidates who were being interviewed through a chat couldn’t tell that they were talking to a bot, he added — even though the company isn’t trying to pass its bot off as human.

    A 2015 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research surveyed 300,000 people and found that those who were hired by a machine, using algorithms to match them to a job, stayed in their jobs 15 percent longer than those who were hired by human recruiters.

    A report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that more than half of human resources jobs may be lost to automation, though it did not give a time period for that shift.

    “Recruiting jobs will definitely go away,” said John Sullivan, who teaches management at San Francisco State University.

 

 

EON CREATOR AVR

The EON Creator AVR Enterprise and Education content builder empowers non-technical users to create compelling AR and VR applications in minutes, not weeks.

ENTERPRISE
With no programming required, EON Creator AVR Enterprise empowers workers to accelerate learning and improve performance, safety, and efficiency in the workplace.

EDUCATION
Teachers and students can create, experience, and share AVR learning applications with EON Creator AVR and quickly add them to their current classroom, seamlessly.

 

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Microsoft Announces New Laptops and OS Perfect for 21st-Century Students — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
Windows 10 S, Surface Laptop and other updates are coming to classrooms in the fall.

Excerpt:

Surface Laptop Introduces Seamless Technology
Perhaps the biggest cheers from the crowd came from the announcement of the new Surface Laptop, which will be available in June 2017.

The laptop checks in at 2.76 pounds with a 13.5-inch PixelSense display and 3:2 aspect ratio. Equipped with a fabric overlay on the backlit keyboard, the laptop is so seamless it doesn’t even have speaker grills. Instead, Panay says users can be immersed in sound while working on things like video. With a Surface Pen and the laptop’s LCD touch module, annotation is easy, even on videos.

 

 

Microsoft Debuts Surface Laptops, Windows 10 S for Education, Teams for Office 365 for Education — from campustechnology.com by David Nagel

Excerpt:

Microsoft has unveiled several new offerings for education, including the forthcoming Surface Laptop and a new version of Windows 10 designed for school environments — Windows 10 S.

 

Also see:

 

 

Also see:

From Mixed Reality to New Minecraft and OS, Microsoft Unleashes a Flurry of EDU Upgrades — from edsurge.com by Jenny AbamuMay

Excerpt:

“How can technology create more opportunity, not for a few but for all,” asked Nadella, noting how his own grandfather was not able to go to school because of the limited resources his family had. “Democratizing education must be something that is for everyone and not just for a select few, this is something that is deeply personal.”

His passionate and personal plea set the tone for the flurry of announcements and updates that followed. By the end of the whirlwind showcase, educators were weary but excited about future possibilities.

 

Also  see:

 

 

 

Microsoft Unveils K-12 Operating System, Tools to Challenge Google — from edweek.org by Sean Cavanagh

Excerpt:

Microsoft unveiled a new, streamlined operating system, a slim laptop and a bevy of classroom tools, a group of products that in design and spirit seem aimed at competing with ascendant Chromebooks and other Google offerings in the school market.

At a product announcement on Tuesday crowded with company employees and tech journalists, Microsoft executives repeatedly touted a theme in describing the new operating system, Windows 10 S, and the accompanying products: simplicity.

The goal is “simplify to magnify,” Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of the Windows and devices group, told the assembled crowd. “Simplicity is power.”

“Technology should help, not hinder, teachers’ work in the classroom,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. It should make educators’ jobs easier, and “spark students’ creativity.”

 

 

 

 

Linkedin reaches a half billion users — from businessinsider.com by Kevin Gallagher

Excerpt:

LinkedIn announced that it now has over 500 million registered users in 200 countries, an increase from the 467 million reported in the company’s last earnings release as standalone company in October.

Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of the professional social network was completed in December, and similar announcements highlighting tighter integration between Microsoft and LinkedIn could be imminent. The member milestone is important, but somewhat lackluster as it implies relatively flat member growth since Q3 2016.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
For you students out there, you need to have a presence/account out on LinkedIn.com. Why? Because:

  • It’s got 500 million users
  • You can join groups and build communities of practice
  • It’s owned by Microsoft — and with the increasing usage of artificial intelligence, algorithms, and software-based screening, look for Microsoft to offer more services in this regard. New forms of badging, credentialing, and blockchain-based applications could arise in the future…and having your account on LinkedIn might help in this regard.
  • You need to be online and to be able to be discovered
  • It provides you with yet another stream of content for you to learn from

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian