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

Amazon introduces Echo Show

The description reads:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 



From DSC:

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

Hmmm….very interesting times indeed.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 



 

Addendum on 5/10/17:

 



 

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs [Meghan Bogardus Cortez at edtechmagazine.com]

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
These administrative all-stars, IT gurus, teachers and community experts understand how the latest technology is changing the nature of education.

Excerpt:

With summer break almost here, we’ve got an idea for how you can use some of your spare time. Take a look at the Dean’s List, our compilation of the must-read blogs that seek to make sense of higher education in today’s digital world.

Follow these education trailblazers for not-to-be-missed analyses of the trends, challenges and opportunities that technology can provide.

If you’d like to check out the Must-Read IT blogs from previous years, view our lists from 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

 

 



From DSC:
I would like to thank Tara Buck, Meghan Bogardus Cortez, D. Frank Smith, Meg Conlan, and Jimmy Daly and the rest of the staff at EdTech Magazine for their support of this Learning Ecosystems blog through the years — I really appreciate it. 

Thanks all for your encouragement through the years!



 

 

 

 

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


 

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

Excerpt:

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

 

 

 

 

 

Also see:

 

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

 

 

Per Candyvoice.com:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Also related:

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training — from by Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson
As robots, automation and artificial intelligence perform more tasks and there is massive disruption of jobs, experts say a wider array of education and skills-building programs will be created to meet new demands. There are two uncertainties: Will well-prepared workers be able to keep up in the race with AI tools? And will market capitalism survive?

Excerpt:

Machines are eating humans’ jobs talents. And it’s not just about jobs that are repetitive and low-skill. Automation, robotics, algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) in recent times have shown they can do equal or sometimes even better work than humans who are dermatologists, insurance claims adjusters, lawyers, seismic testers in oil fields, sports journalists and financial reporters, crew members on guided-missile destroyers, hiring managers, psychological testers, retail salespeople, and border patrol agents. Moreover, there is growing anxiety that technology developments on the near horizon will crush the jobs of the millions who drive cars and trucks, analyze medical tests and data, perform middle management chores, dispense medicine, trade stocks and evaluate markets, fight on battlefields, perform government functions, and even replace those who program software – that is, the creators of algorithms.

Several policy and market-based solutions have been promoted to address the loss of employment and wages forecast by technologists and economists. A key idea emerging from many conversations, including one of the lynchpin discussions at the World Economic Forum in 2016, is that changes in educational and learning environments are necessary to help people stay employable in the labor force of the future. Among the six overall findings in a new 184-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, the experts recommended: “The education system will need to adapt to prepare individuals for the changing labor market. At the same time, recent IT advances offer new and potentially more widely accessible ways to access education.”

 

 

In the next 10 years, do you think we will see the emergence of new educational and training programs that can successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future?

 

 

 

 



From DSC:
The following questions (from the article) might be fodder for initial conversations regarding what changes need to immediately occur within higher education. Those changes might be to establish teams/task forces/etc. charged with answering these kinds of questions.

  • What are the most important skills needed to succeed in the workforce of the future?
  • Which of these skills can be taught effectively via online systems – especially those that are self-directed – and other nontraditional settings?
  • Which skills will be most difficult to teach at scale?
  • Will employers be accepting of applicants who rely on new types of credentialing systems, or will they be viewed as less qualified than those who have attended traditional four-year and graduate programs?

The following section further supports a vision that I’ve been tracking entitled, “Learning from the Living [Class] Room” — where I see the “New Amazon.com of Higher Education” unfolding. Blockchain-based technologies will likely be involved here.

A diversifying education and credentialing ecosystem: Most of these experts expect the education marketplace – especially online learning platforms – to continue to change in an effort to accommodate the widespread needs.  Some predict employers will step up their own efforts to train and retrain workers. Many foresee a significant number of self-teaching  efforts by jobholders themselves as they take advantage of proliferating online opportunities.

Respondents see a new education and training ecosystem emerging in which some job preparation functions are performed by formal educational institutions in fairly traditional classroom settings, some elements are offered online, some are created by for-profit firms, some are free, some exploit augmented and virtual reality elements and gaming sensibilities, and a lot of real-time learning takes place in formats that job seekers pursue on their own.

A considerable number of respondents to this canvassing focused on the likelihood that the best education programs will teach people how to be lifelong learners. Accordingly, some say alternative credentialing mechanisms will arise to assess and vouch for the skills people acquire along the way.

 

 

DC: Many societies around the globe are looking at massive change coming at them. What changes should those of us working in higher education begin to make — immediately? In the longer term?

 



 

 

These respondents suggest that workers of the future will learn to deeply cultivate and exploit creativity, collaborative activity, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication, and the ability to thrive in diverse environments.

 

 



 

Addendum on 5/6/17:

  • How to Prepare for an Automated Future — from nytimes.com by Claire Cain Miller
    Excerpt:
    We don’t know how quickly machines will displace people’s jobs, or how many they’ll take, but we know it’s happening — not just to factory workers but also to money managers, dermatologists and retail workers. The logical response seems to be to educate people differently, so they’re prepared to work alongside the robots or do the jobs that machines can’t. But how to do that, and whether training can outpace automation, are open questions.

 

 

 

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Excerpt:

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

 

Also see:

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

Also see:

 

 

 

From DSC:
In terms of learning, having to be in the same physical place as others continues to not be a requirement nearly as much as it used to be. But I’m not just talking about online learning here. I’m talking about a new type of learning environment that involves both hardware and software to facilitate collaboration (and it was designed that way from day 1). These new types of setups can provide us with new opportunities and affordances that we should begin experimenting with immediately.

Check out the following products — all of which allow a person to contribute to a discussion or conversation from anywhere they can get Internet access:

When you go to those sites, you will see words and phrase such as:

  • Visual collaboration software
  • Virtual workspace
  • Develop
  • Share
  • Inspire
  • Design
  • Global teams
  • A visual collaboration solution that links locations, teams, content, and devices in an immersive, shared workspace
  • Teamwork
  • Create and brainstorm with others
  • Digital workplace platform
  • Eliminate the distance between in-office and remote employees
  • Jumpstart spontaneous brainstorms and working sessions

So using these types of software and hardware setups, I can contribute regardless of where I’m located. Remote learning — from anywhere in the world — being combined with our face-to-face based classrooms.

Also, the push for Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) continues across higher education. Such hands-on, project-learning based, student-centered approaches fit extremely well with the collaboration setups mentioned above.

Then, there’s the insight from Simon Dudley in this article:

“…video conferencing is increasingly an application within in a larger workflow…”

Lastly, if colleges and universities don’t have the funds to maintain their physical plants, look for higher education to move increasingly online — and these types of solutions could play a significant role in that environment. Plus, for working adults who need to reinvent themselves, this is an extremely efficient means of picking up some new skills and competencies.

So the growth of these types of setups — where the software and hardware work together to support worldwide collaboration — will likely create a powerful, new, emerging piece of our learning ecosystems.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Remote learning — from anywhere in the world — being combined with our face-to-face based classrooms.

 



 

 

Five things to know about Facebook’s huge augmented reality fantasy — from gizmodo.com by Michael Nunez

Excerpt:

One example of how this might work is at a restaurant. Your friend will be able to leave an augmented reality sticky note on the menu, letting you know which menu item is the best or which one’s the worst when you hold your camera up to it.

Another example is if you’re at a celebration, like New Year’s Eve or a birthday party. Facebook could use an augmented reality filter to fill the scene with confetti or morph the bar into an aquarium or any other setting corresponding with the team’s mascot. The basic examples are similar to Snapchat’s geo-filters—but the more sophisticated uses because it will actually let you leave digital objects behind for your friends to discover. Very cool!

 

“We’re going to make the camera the first mainstream AR platform,” said Zuckerberg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Everything Facebook Announced at F8, From VR to Bots — from wired.com

Excerpt:

On Tuesday, Facebook kicked off its annual F8 developer conference with a keynote address. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others on his executive team made a bunch of announcements aimed at developers, but the implications for Facebook’s users was pretty clear. The apps that billions of us use daily—Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram—are going to be getting new camera tricks, new augmented reality capabilities, and more bots. So many bots!

 

Facebook’s bold and bizarre VR hangout app is now available for the Oculus Rift — from theverge.com by Nick Statt

Excerpt:

Facebook’s most fascinating virtual reality experiment, a VR hangout session where you can interact with friends as if you were sitting next to one another, is now ready for the public. The company is calling the product Facebook Spaces, and it’s being released today in beta form for the Oculus Rift.

 

 

 

From DSC:

Is this a piece of the future of distance education / online learning-based classrooms?

 

 

 

Facebook Launches Local ‘Developer Circles’ To Help Entrepreneurs Collaborate, Build Skills — from forbes.com by Kathleen  Chaykowski

Excerpt:

In 2014, Facebook launched its FbStart program, which has helped several thousand early stage apps build and grow their apps through a set of free tools and mentorship meetings. On Tuesday, Facebook unveiled a new program to reach a broader range of developers, as well as students interested in technology.

The program, called “Developer Circles,” is intended to bring developers in local communities together offline as well as online in Facebook groups to encourage the sharing of technical know-how, discuss ideas and build new projects. The program is also designed to serve students who may not yet be working on an app, but who are interested in building skills to work in computer science.

 

 

Facebook launches augmented reality Camera Effects developer platform — from techcrunch.com by Josh Constine

Excerpt:

Facebook will rely on an army of outside developers to contribute augmented reality image filters and interactive experiences to its new Camera Effects platform. After today’s Facebook F8 conference, the first effects will become available inside Facebook’s Camera feature on smartphones, but the Camera Effects platform is designed to eventually be compatible with future augmented reality hardware, such as eyeglasses.

While critics thought Facebook was just mindlessly copying Snapchat with its recent Stories and Camera features in Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg tells TechCrunch his company was just laying the groundwork for today’s Camera Effects platform launch.

 

 

Mark Zuckerberg Sees Augmented Reality Ecosystem in Facebook — from nytimes.com by Mike Isaac

Excerpt:

On Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg introduced what he positioned as the first mainstream augmented reality platform, a way for people to view and digitally manipulate the physical world around them through the lens of their smartphone cameras.

 

 

Facebook Launches Social VR App ‘Facebook Spaces’ in Beta for Rift — from virtualrealitypulse.com by Ben Lang

 

 

 


Addendums on 4/20/17:


 

 

 

 

The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI — from technologyreview.com by Will Knight
No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.

Excerpt:

The mysterious mind of this vehicle points to a looming issue with artificial intelligence. The car’s underlying AI technology, known as deep learning, has proved very powerful at solving problems in recent years, and it has been widely deployed for tasks like image captioning, voice recognition, and language translation. There is now hope that the same techniques will be able to diagnose deadly diseases, make million-dollar trading decisions, and do countless other things to transform whole industries.

But this won’t happen—or shouldn’t happen—unless we find ways of making techniques like deep learning more understandable to their creators and accountable to their users. Otherwise it will be hard to predict when failures might occur—and it’s inevitable they will. That’s one reason Nvidia’s car is still experimental.

 

“Whether it’s an investment decision, a medical decision, or maybe a military decision, you don’t want to just rely on a ‘black box’ method.”

 


This raises mind-boggling questions. As the technology advances, we might soon cross some threshold beyond which using AI requires a leap of faith. Sure, we humans can’t always truly explain our thought processes either—but we find ways to intuitively trust and gauge people. Will that also be possible with machines that think and make decisions differently from the way a human would? We’ve never before built machines that operate in ways their creators don’t understand. How well can we expect to communicate—and get along with—intelligent machines that could be unpredictable and inscrutable? These questions took me on a journey to the bleeding edge of research on AI algorithms, from Google to Apple and many places in between, including a meeting with one of the great philosophers of our time.

 

 

 

From DSC:
The recent pieces below made me once again reflect on the massive changes that are quickly approaching — and in some cases are already here — for a variety of nations throughout the world.

They caused me to reflect on:

  • What the potential ramifications for higher education might be regarding these changes that are just starting to take place in the workplace due to artificial intelligence (i.e., the increasing use of algorithms, machine learning, and deep learning, etc.), automation, & robotics?
  • The need for people to reinvent themselves quickly throughout their careers (if we can still call them careers)
  • How should we, as a nation, prepare for these massive changes so that there isn’t civil unrest due to soaring inequality and unemployment?

As found in the April 9th, 2017 edition of our local newspaper here:

When even our local newspaper is picking up on this trend, you know it is real and has some significance to it.

 

Then, as I was listening to the radio a day or two after seeing the above article, I heard of another related piece on NPR.  NPR is having a journalist travel across the country, trying to identify “robot-safe” jobs.  Here’s the feature on this from MarketPlace.org

 

 

What changes do institutions of traditional higher education
immediately need to begin planning for? Initiating?

What changes should be planned for and begin to be initiated
in the way(s) that we accredit new programs?

 

 

Keywords/ideas that come to my mind:

  • Change — to society, to people, to higher ed, to the workplace
  • Pace of technological change — no longer linear, but exponential
  • Career development
  • Staying relevant — as institutions, as individuals in the workplace
  • Reinventing ourselves over time — and having to do so quickly
  • Adapting, being nimble, willing to innovate — as institutions, as individuals
  • Game-changing environment
  • Lifelong learning — higher ed needs to put more emphasis on microlearning, heutagogy, and delivering constant/up-to-date streams of content and learning experiences. This could happen via the addition/use of smaller learning hubs, some even makeshift learning hubs that are taking place at locations that these institutions don’t even own…like your local Starbucks.
  • If we don’t get this right, there could be major civil unrest as inequality and unemployment soar
  • Traditional institutions of higher education have not been nearly as responsive to change as they have needed to be; this opens the door to alternatives. There’s a limited (and closing) window of time left to become more nimble and responsive before these alternatives majorly disrupt the current world of higher education.

 

 

 



Addendum from the corporate world (emphasis DSC):



 

From The Impact 2017 Conference:

The Role of HR in the Future of Work – A Town Hall

  • Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Nicola Vogel, Global Senior HR Director, Danfoss
  • Frank Møllerop, Chief Executive Officer, Questback
  • David Mallon, Head of Research, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Massive changes spurred by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, mobile platforms, sensors and social collaboration have revolutionized the way we live, work and communicate – and the pace is only accelerating. Robots and cognitive technologies are making steady advances, particularly in jobs and tasks that follow set, standardized rules and logic. This reinforces a critical challenge for business and HR leaders—namely, the need to design, source, and manage the future of work.

In this Town Hall, we will discuss the role HR can play in leading the digital transformation that is shaping the future of work in organizations worldwide. We will explore the changes we see taking place in three areas:

  • Digital workforce: How can organizations drive new management practices, a culture of innovation and sharing, and a set of talent practices that facilitate a new network-based organization?
  • Digital workplace: How can organizations design a working environment that enables productivity; uses modern communication tools (such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Teams, and many others); and promotes engagement, wellness, and a sense of purpose?
  • Digital HR: How can organizations change the HR function itself to operate in a digital way, use digital tools and apps to deliver solutions, and continuously experiment and innovate?
 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems