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


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:




Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom

Personalized Learning Meets AI With Watson Classroom — from 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


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
Enterprises are embracing AI for automating human resources


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 by Darya Tarliuk


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 by Gary Audin
From malicious hackers to accidental voice recordings, data processed through virtual assistants may open you to security and privacy risks.


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 by Christian Madsbjerg
The more we rely on AI and machine learning, the more work we need social scientists and humanities experts to do.


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.






From DSC:
My comments below are not meant to bash anyone at the Institute for the Future (which I really respect) nor at MIT Technology Review, in fact I recently posted an item from the latter organization that I thought was great. But l
ooking at the list below, I can’t help but think, “Oh…that should be no problem!  Geez that’s easy! ………NOT!”

As people lose their jobs to AI, robots, bots, algorithms, automation and the like — and try to reinvent themselves — many people won’t have the skills, interests, aptitudes, funding, background/prior knowledge, etc. to carve out their niches, to find out how to build teams that utilize robots and AI, and to make sense of complex systems. How many of us truly understand the world we’re living in these days? No one does.

Again, no problem on mastering these 5 peak performance zones. Easy peazy lemon squeezy. Geeez.  (Please hear the intense sarcasm dripping off my comments.)

How unrealistic can we get? It’s like saying, “Everyone can learn to code. No problem.”  That’s not true at all, especially given the current state of computer programming. Many (most?) people simply don’t think that way. That’s why programmers are always in demand and they are often highly paid. Why? Because most people don’t want to do it, can’t do it, or choose not to do it.

Please, let’s get realistic.


From the 2/22/18 e-newsletter from MIT Technology Review

The five skills you need for jobs of the future

The Palo Alto-based think tank Institute for the Future partnered with software company Cornerstone OnDemand to produce a report that identifies 15 skills that workers need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. They fall into five main buckets:

  1. Make yourself known through reputation management: Carve out your niche and brand across a variety of platforms to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
  2. Master human and machine collaboration: Know how to build teams that utilize robots and AI, as well as humans.
  3. Build your tribe: Personal networks and social connections will take you to the next level in a tech-focused world.
  4. Make sense of complex systems: The ability to be creative and connect the dots between different industries and organizations will be rewarded.
  5. Build resilience in extreme environments: Learn to thrive in more a risk prone society and build yourself new safety nets.



“To be fit for this future, you need to master five peak performance zones. These are the basics of future fitness for everyone. No matter what your own personal mission in life is, these are the workout zones that will get you ready to face whatever comes next.”





The top 7 programming languages to learn in 2018 — from by Speros Misirlakis
Which programming languages are the ones employers want most?


Software development is a dynamic field. New programming languages, frameworks, and technologies can emerge, become popular, and then fade away in the course of a few years. Developers need to constantly be learning new skills to stay relevant. At Coding Dojo, we’re continually evaluating which programming languages are in high demand from employers so we can prepare our students to enter the job market. There are many ways to measure a programming language’s popularity, but we believe examining job demand is most useful because it shows developers how to improve their career prospects.

To accomplish that, we analyzed data from job website on 25 programming languages, stacks, and frameworks to determine the top seven most in-demand coding languages as we move into 2018. This analysis is based on the number of job postings for each language. Some languages like Swift and Ruby didn’t make the top seven because they have lower job demand, even though developers love them. You can read the results of similar analysis from 2016 and 2017 on our blog.

Here’s our list, in order from most to least in-demand.




The Skills Companies Need Most in 2018 – And The Courses to Get Them — from by Paul Petrone


Using a combination of LinkedIn data and survey results, we determined both the soft and the hard skills companies need most. And then we provided LinkedIn Learning courses that teach those skills, which we’ve made free for all of January 2018.

Enjoy. Learning these skills will help you stay ahead of change and make the most of all that opportunity in 2018.


Also see:

LinkedIn Data Reveals the Most Promising Jobs and In-Demand Skills of 2018 — from by Rachel Bowley


As we enter 2018 it’s become clear that the jobs landscape in the United States is changing. How people are thinking about their careers and how they define success is changing. The rise of technology across every industry has created a flurry of new jobs and associated skills (and these aren’t necessarily all tech roles). While we all may take a different approach to reach our own definition of success, we’ve compiled a list of the most promising jobs and in-demand skills, plus a few stand-out trends, to help you get there.

The Trends

  • You don’t need to be technical to be successful. Despite the prominence of technical jobs and skills, soft skills like management, leadership, and strategy are equally as important. The proof is in the data: we surveyed 2,000 business leaders who told us the soft skills most in-demand are leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management. In fact, 57% of them said these soft skills are more important than hard skills.
  • Customer is king. As we saw in our Emerging Jobs Report, as a side effect of the technology boom, customer success, marketing, and sales-related jobs are growing quickly. Reaching potential customers and ensuring current customers are successful with your product are both critical for business success.
  • Technology is here to stay. Year-over-year technology jobs and skills have dominated these lists, and that’s a trend that’s likely here to stay. All jobs are likely going to require some technical skills in the future, so make sure to brush up on the basics.





18 striking AI Trends to watch in 2018 – Part 1 as well as 18 striking AI Trends to watch in 2018 – Part 2 — from by Sugandha Lahoti


Artificial Intelligence is the talk of the town. It has evolved past merely being a buzzword in 2016, to be used in a more practical manner in 2017. As 2018 rolls out, we will gradually notice AI transitioning into a necessity. We have prepared a detailed report, on what we can expect from AI in the upcoming year. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride through the future. (Don’t forget to wear your VR headgear! )

Here are 18 things that will happen in 2018 that are either AI driven or driving AI:

  1. Artificial General Intelligence may gain major traction in research.
  2. We will turn to AI enabled solution to solve mission-critical problems.
  3. Machine Learning adoption in business will see rapid growth.
  4. Safety, ethics, and transparency will become an integral part of AI application design conversations.
  5. Mainstream adoption of AI on mobile devices
  6. Major research on data efficient learning methods
  7. AI personal assistants will continue to get smarter
  8. Race to conquer the AI optimized hardware market will heat up further
  9. We will see closer AI integration into our everyday lives.
  10. The cryptocurrency hype will normalize and pave way for AI-powered Blockchain applications.
  11. Advancements in AI and Quantum Computing will share a symbiotic relationship18 striking AI Trends to watch in 2018 – Part 1
  12. Deep learning will continue to play a significant role in AI development progress.
  13. AI will be on both sides of the cybersecurity challenge.
  14. Augmented reality content will be brought to smartphones.
  15. Reinforcement learning will be applied to a large number of real-world situations.
  16. Robotics development will be powered by Deep Reinforcement learning and Meta-learning
  17. Rise in immersive media experiences enabled by AI.
  18. A large number of organizations will use Digital Twin.



Inside AI — from
The year 2017 has been full of interesting news about Artificial Intelligence, so to close out the year, we’re doing two special retrospective issues covering the highlights.


A Reality Check For IBM’s A.I. Ambitions. MIT Tech Review.
This is a must read piece about the failures, and continued promise, of Watson. Some of the press about Watson has made IBM appear behind some of the main tech leaders, but, keep in mind that Google, Amazon, Facebook, and others don’t do the kinds of customer facing projects IBM is doing with Watson. When you look at how the tech giants are positioned, I think IBM has been vastly underestimated, given that they have the one thing few others do – large scale enterprise A.I. projects. Whether it all works today, or not, doesn’t matter. The experience and expertise they are building is a competitive advantage in a market that is very young where no other companies are doing these types of projects that will soon enough be mainstream.

The Business of Artificial Intelligence. Harvard Business Review.
This cover story for the latest edition of HBR explains why artificial intelligence is the most powerful general purpose technology to come around in a long time. It also looks into some of the key ways to think about applying A.I. at work, and how to expect the next phase of this technology to play out.

The Robot Revolution Is Coming. Just Be Patient. Bloomberg.
We keep hearing that robots and A.I. are about to make us super productive. But when? Sooner than we think, according to this.




An excerpt from



Alexa Wants You to Talk to Your Ads — from by Ricki Harris


There are few electronic devices with which you cannot order a Domino’s pizza. When the craving hits, you can place an order via Twitter, Slack, Facebook Messenger, SMS, your tablet, your smartwatch, your smart TV, and even your app-enabled Ford. This year, the pizza monger added another ordering tool: If your home is one of the 20 million with a voice assistant, you can place a regular order through Alexa or Google Home. Just ask for a large extra-cheese within earshot, and voila—your pizza is in the works.

Amazon’s Alexa offers more than 25,000 skills—the set of actions that serve as applications for voice technology. Yet Domino’s is one of a relatively small number of brands that has seized the opportunity to enter your home by creating a skill of its own. Now that Amazon Echoes and Google Homes are in kitchens and living rooms across the country, they open a window into user behavior that marketers previously only dreamt of. But brands’ efforts to engage consumers directly via voice have been scattershot. The list of those that have tried is sparse: some banks; a couple of fast food chains; a few beauty companies; retailers here and there. Building a marketing plan for Alexa has been a risky venture. That’s because, when it comes to our virtual assistants, no one knows what the *&^& is going on.

But if 2017 was the year that Alexa hit the mainstream, 2018 will be the year that advertisers begin to take her seriously by investing time and money in figuring out how to make use of her.




8 emerging AI jobs for IT pros — from by Kevin Casey
What IT jobs will be hot in the age of AI? Take a sneak peek at roles likely to be in demand


If you’re watching the impact of artificial intelligence on the IT organization, your interest probably starts with your own job. Can robots do what you do? But more importantly, you want to skate where the puck is headed. What emerging IT roles will AI create? We talked to AI and IT career experts to get a look at some emerging roles that will be valuable in the age of AI.




Getting Intelligent About Artificial Intelligence: 6 Ways Executives Can Start — from forbes.comby Davia Temin


This past June, Fortune Magazine asked all the CEOs of the Fortune 500 what they believed the biggest challenge facing their companies was. Their biggest concern for 2017: “The rapid pace of technological change” said 73% of those polled, up from 64% in 2016. Cyber security came in only a far second, at 61%, even after all the mega hacks of the past year.

So, what does “technological change” entail? For almost all Fortune 500 CEOs, it means, in part, artificial intelligence. And, as we wrote in our piece yesterday on, “Forget The Hype: What Every Business Leader Needs To Know About Artificial Intelligence Now,”  AI is on the lips of almost every global CEO and Board of Directors.

But apart from the Big 8 technology companies – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba – business leaders, especially of earlier generations, may feel they don’t know enough about AI to make informed decisions.




Artificial intelligence is helping astronomers discover new planets — from
AI could help us discover planet nine, dark matter and more gravitational waves


For the first time, artificial intelligence has been used to discover two new exoplanets. One of the discoveries, made by Nasa’s Kepler mission, brings the Kepler-90 solar system to a total of 8 planets – the first solar system found with the same number as our own.





Education must transform to make people ready for AI — from by Jo Owen
Schools will need to teach know-how, not know-what


A recent study by Oxford university estimates that nearly half of all jobs in the US are at risk from automation and computers in the next 20 years. While advancing technologies have been endangering jobs since the start of the Industrial Revolution, this time it is not just manual posts: artificial intelligence — the so-called fourth industrial revolution — promises to change the shape of professional work as well.

For instance, lawtech is already proving adept at sorting and analysing legal documents far faster and more cheaply than junior lawyers can. Similarly, routine tasks in accounting are succumbing to AI at the expense of more junior staff.


The next generation will need a new set of skills to survive, let alone thrive, in an AI world. Literacy, numeracy, science and languages are all important, but they share one thing in common: computers are going to be far better than humans at processing these forms of explicit knowledge. The risk is that the education system will be churning out humans who are no more than second-rate computers, so if the focus of education continues to be on transferring explicit knowledge across the generations, we will be in trouble.

The AI challenge is not just about educating more AI and computer experts, although that is important. It is also about building skills that AI cannot emulate. These are essential human skills such as teamwork, leadership, listening, staying positive, dealing with people and managing crises and conflict.


Evaluation and league tables are a barrier to success — you get what you measure in education as much as you do in business.


From DSC:
“Teamwork, leadership, listening, staying positive, dealing with people and managing crises and conflict.” Do our standardized tests measure these types of things? No, I agree with you. They don’t. They measure “know-what skills.”


“We are doubling down on the idea that if we get children to know things and regurgitate them in a certain way in an exam, then we are setting them up for success in life.”

Tom Ravenscroft





Also see:


Capitalism that Works for Everyone — from by Tom Vander Ark


Inequality Gets Worse From Here
Our new report on the future of work and learning illustrated how the combination of artificial intelligence, big data and enabling technologies like robotics are changing the employment landscape fast.

Our new paper on the future of work and learning suggests a couple solutions…


 LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report


LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report — from


Here’s what we found:

  • Tech is king: Jobs with the top growth potential are tech-focused, with demand coming from tech and non-tech companies alike. Machine learning engineer, data scientist, and big data engineers rank among the top emerging jobs — with companies in a wide range of industries seeking those skills.
  • Soft skills matter: Not all of the emerging tech jobs require technical skills. Sales development representative, customer success manager, and brand partner rank among the top emerging jobs at companies where a technical background is not a necessity. Traditional soft skills like communication and management underpin all of these emerging jobs.
  • Jobs with high mobility on the rise: Several top emerging jobs reflect broader societal trends, such as wellness, flexibility and location mobility. More people are getting healthy which could explain why barre instructor featured among our emerging jobs. Not quite as surprising, licensed realtors ranked highly as the post-Great Recession recovery of the real estate market rolls forward. Just in the past year, the number of licensed realtors has surged 40 percent. These type of roles tend to be more widely distributed across U.S. regions.
  • Low supply of talent for top jobs: Data scientist roles have grown over 650 percent since 2012, but currently 35,000 people in the US have data science skills, while hundreds of companies are hiring for those roles – even those you may not expect in sectors like retail and finance – supply of candidates for these roles cannot keep up with demand.
  • Future-proofing skills is critical: Some of these emerging skills didn’t even exist five years ago, and many professionals are not confident their current skill set will be relevant within the next 1-2 years.


top 20 fastest growing jobs in the united states


Software engineers are feeding into nearly all of these emerging jobs.



Even further, it’s estimated that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately hold jobs that don’t yet exist.



Future-proofing skills is critical: Some of these emerging skills didn’t even exist five years ago, and many professionals are not confident their current skill set will be relevant within the next 1-2 years.




Also see:





How AI-powered enterprise chatbot platforms are transforming the future of work — from by Gina Shaw


To sum it up in a few words, a chatbot platform is a toolset which is used to build and deploy chatbots. Every organization has its own set of unique challenges that can be overcome by convenient automation provided by chatbots. After establishing a clear-cut chatbot strategy, enterprises can use a bot builder platform to build, train and manage customized bots. Before the advent of chatbot platforms, building a bot was a strenuous task and required sophisticated toolsets and advanced coding knowledge. However with time, several bot building platforms flooded the chatbot market and led to the creation of safe AI bots which need minimum deployment time and almost zero coding knowledge. Enterprise chatbot platforms also allow IT departments to have complete control and access to monitoring bots.


From DSC:
It is with some hesitation that I post this article. Why? Because:

  1. I started out my career in a customer service related position at Baxter Healthcare, and it was one of the most important jobs that I’ve had because it taught me the value of a customer. Ever since then, I have treated everyone as my customer — whether they be internal or external to the organization that I was working for.
  2. Then, there’s the idea of calling a Voice Response Unit (VRU) — which sometimes works well and sometimes I can’t stand it. There are times when I/we simply want to speak to a fellow human being.

So it is with some hesitation that I post this article. But I do so because it is yet another example of:

  • The increased usage of algorithms, software, bots, personal assistants, AI, etc. to obtain answers and information
  • The changing skillset employees will need and job seekers may want to develop (if such things are interesting to them)
  • The massive changes heading our way




Ask About AI: The Future of Learning and Work — from by Tom Vander Ark


Code that learns may prove to be the most important invention in human history. But in 2016, there was almost no discussion of the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) in K-12 education—either the immense implications for the employment landscape or the exciting potential to improve learning.

We spent two years studying the implications of AI and concluded that machine intelligence turbocharged by big data and enabling technologies like robotics is the most significant change force facing humanity. Given enormous benefits and challenges we’re just beginning to understand, we believe it is an important time to Ask About AI (#AskAboutAI).

After interviewing experts, hosting a dozen community conversations, and posting more than 50 articles we’re summarizing what we’ve learned in a new paper Ask About AI: The Future of Learning and Work.

The paper explores what’s happening in the automation economy, the civic and social implications, and how to prepare ourselves and our children for exponential change.

With this launch we’re also launching a new microsite on Future of Work.





To initiate lifelong learning, secondary schools should encourage students to be reflect on how they learn, and build habits of success. There are an increasing number of organizations interested in being lifelong learning partners for students—college alumni associations, professional schools and private marketplaces among them.

Self-directed learning is most powerfully driven by a sense of purpose. In our study of Millennial employment, Generation Do It Yourself, we learned that it is critical for young people to develop a sense of purpose before attending college to avoid the new worst-case scenario—racking up college debt and dropping out. A sense of purpose can be developed around a talent or issue, or their intersection; both can be cultivated by a robust guidance system.

We’ve been teaching digital literacy for two decades, but what’s new is that we all need to appreciate that algorithms curate every screen we see. As smart machines augment our capabilities, they will increasingly influence our perceptions, opportunities and decisions. That means that to self- and social awareness, we’ll soon need to add AI awareness.

Taken together, these skills and dispositions create a sense of agency—the ability to take ownership of learning, grow through effort and work with other people in order to do the learning you need to do.





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