Reflections on “Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel” [Levy]

Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel — from wired.com by Steven Levy
How deep learning came to power Alexa, Amazon Web Services, and nearly every other division of the company.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Amazon loves to use the word flywheel to describe how various parts of its massive business work as a single perpetual motion machine. It now has a powerful AI flywheel, where machine-learning innovations in one part of the company fuel the efforts of other teams, who in turn can build products or offer services to affect other groups, or even the company at large. Offering its machine-learning platforms to outsiders as a paid service makes the effort itself profitable—and in certain cases scoops up yet more data to level up the technology even more.

It took a lot of six-pagers to transform Amazon from a deep-learning wannabe into a formidable power. The results of this transformation can be seen throughout the company—including in a recommendations system that now runs on a totally new machine-learning infrastructure. Amazon is smarter in suggesting what you should read next, what items you should add to your shopping list, and what movie you might want to watch tonight. And this year Thirumalai started a new job, heading Amazon search, where he intends to use deep learning in every aspect of the service.

“If you asked me seven or eight years ago how big a force Amazon was in AI, I would have said, ‘They aren’t,’” says Pedro Domingos, a top computer science professor at the University of Washington. “But they have really come on aggressively. Now they are becoming a force.”

Maybe the force.

 

 

From DSC:
When will we begin to see more mainstream recommendation engines for learning-based materials? With the demand for people to reinvent themselves, such a next generation learning platform can’t come soon enough!

  • Turning over control to learners to create/enhance their own web-based learner profiles; and allowing people to say who can access their learning profiles.
  • AI-based recommendation engines to help people identify curated, effective digital playlists for what they want to learn about.
  • Voice-driven interfaces.
  • Matching employees to employers.
  • Matching one’s learning preferences (not styles) with the content being presented as one piece of a personalized learning experience.
  • From cradle to grave. Lifelong learning.
  • Multimedia-based, interactive content.
  • Asynchronously and synchronously connecting with others learning about the same content.
  • Online-based tutoring/assistance; remote assistance.
  • Reinvent. Staying relevant. Surviving.
  • Competency-based learning.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re about to embark on a period in American history where career reinvention will be critical, perhaps more so than it’s ever been before. In the next decade, as many as 50 million American workers—a third of the total—will need to change careers, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Automation, in the form of AI (artificial intelligence) and RPA (robotic process automation), is the primary driver. McKinsey observes: “There are few precedents in which societies have successfully retrained such large numbers of people.”

Bill Triant and Ryan Craig

 

 

 

Also relevant/see:

Online education’s expansion continues in higher ed with a focus on tech skills — from educationdive.com by James Paterson

Dive Brief:

  • Online learning continues to expand in higher ed with the addition of several online master’s degrees and a new for-profit college that offers a hybrid of vocational training and liberal arts curriculum online.
  • Inside Higher Ed reported the nonprofit learning provider edX is offering nine master’s degrees through five U.S. universities — the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, Arizona State University and the University of California, San Diego. The programs include cybersecurity, data science, analytics, computer science and marketing, and they cost from around $10,000 to $22,000. Most offer stackable certificates, helping students who change their educational trajectory.
  • Former Harvard University Dean of Social Science Stephen Kosslyn, meanwhile, will open Foundry College in January. The for-profit, two-year program targets adult learners who want to upskill, and it includes training in soft skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Students will pay about $1,000 per course, though the college is waiving tuition for its first cohort.

 

 

 

MIT plans $1B computing college, AI research effort — from educationdive.com by James Paterson

Dive Brief (emphasis DSC):

  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is creating a College of Computing with the help of a $350 million gift from billionaire investor Stephen A. Schwarzman, who is the CEO and co-founder of the private equity firm Blackstone, in a move the university said is its “most significant reshaping” since 1950.
  • Featuring 50 new faculty positions and a new headquarters building, the $1 billion interdisciplinary initiative will bring together computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), data science and related programs across the institution. MIT will establish a new deanship for the college.
  • The new college…will explore and promote AI’s use in non-technology disciplines with a focus on ethical considerations, which are a growing concern as the technology becomes embedded in many fields.

 

Also see:

Alexa Sessions You Won’t Want to Miss at AWS re:Invent 2018 — from developer.amazon.com

Excerpts — with an eye towards where this might be leading in terms of learning spaces:

Alexa and AWS IoT — Voice is a natural interface to interact not just with the world around us, but also with physical assets and things, such as connected home devices, including lights, thermostats, or TVs. Learn how you can connect and control devices in your home using the AWS IoT platform and Alexa Skills Kit.

Connect Any Device to Alexa and Control Any Feature with the Updated Smart Home Skill API — Learn about the latest update to the Smart Home Skill API, featuring new capability interfaces you can use as building blocks to connect any device to Alexa, including those that fall outside of the traditional smart home categories of lighting, locks, thermostats, sensors, cameras, and audio/video gear. Start learning about how you can create a smarter home with Alexa.

Workshop: Build an Alexa Skill with Multiple Models — Learn how to build an Alexa skill that utilizes multiple interaction models and combines functionality into a single skill. Build an Alexa smart home skill from scratch that implements both custom interactions and smart home functionality within a single skill. Check out these resources to start learning:

 
 

The 11 coolest announcements Google made at its biggest product event of the year — from businessinsider.com by Dave Smith

Excerpt:

On Tuesday (10/9), Google invited journalists to New York City to debut its newest smartphone, the Pixel 3, among several other hardware goodies.

Google made dozens of announcements in its 75-minute event, but a handful of “wow” moments stole the show.

Here are the 11 coolest announcements Google made at its big hardware event…

 

 

 

Google’s Pixel 3 event in 6 minutes — from businessinsider.com

 

 

Google unveiled its new Home Hub but it might be ‘late to the market’ — from barrons.com by Emily Bary

Excerpt:

Alphabet ’s Google has sold millions of voice-enabled speakers, but it inched toward the future at a Tuesday launch event when it introduced the Home Hub smart screen.

Google isn’t the first company to roll out a screen-enabled home device with voice-assistant technology— Amazon.com released its Echo Show in July 2017. Meanwhile, Lenovo has gotten good reviews for its Smart Display, and Facebook introduced the Portal on Monday.

For the most part, though, consumers have stuck to voice-only devices, and it will be up to Google and its rivals to convince them that an added screen is worth paying for. They’ll also have to reassure consumers that they can trust big tech to maintain their privacy, an admittedly harder task these days after recent security issues at Google and Facebook.

 

Amazon was right to realize early on that consumers aren’t always comfortable buying items they can’t even see pictures of, and that it’s hard to remember directions you’ve heard but not seen.

 

 

Google has announced its first smart speaker with a screen — from businessinsider.com by Brandt Ranj

  • Google has announced the Google Hub, its first smart home speaker with a screen. It’s available for pre-order at Best Buy, Target, and Walmart for $149. The Hub will be released on October 22.
  • The Hub has a 7″ touchscreen and sits on a base with a built-in speaker and microphones, which you can use to play music, watch videos, get directions, and control smart home accessories with your voice.
  • Its biggest advantage is its ability to hook into Google’s first-party services, like YouTube and Google Maps, which none of its competitors can use.
  • If you’re an Android or Chromecast user, trust Google more than Amazon, or want a smaller smart home speaker with a screen, the Google Hub is now your best bet.

 

 

Google is shutting down Google+ for consumers following security lapse — from theverge.com by Ashley Carman

Excerpt:

Google is going to shut down the consumer version of Google+ over the next 10 months, the company writes in a blog post today. The decision follows the revelation of a previously undisclosed security flaw that exposed users’ profile data that was remedied in March 2018.

 

 

Google shutters Google+ after users’ personal data exposed — from cbsnews.com

 

 

Google+ is shutting down, and the site’s few loyal users are mourning – from cnbc.com by Jillian D’Onfro

  • Even though Google had diverted resources away from Google+, there’s a small loyal base of users devastated to see it go away.
  • One fan said the company is using its recently revealed security breach as an excuse to shutter the site.
  • Google said it will be closing Google+ in the coming months.

 

 

 

Jarvish’s smart motorcycle helmets will offer Alexa and Siri support and an AR display

 

Jarvish’s smart motorcycle helmets will offer Alexa and Siri support and an AR display — from the verge.com by Chaim Gartenberg

Excerpt:

The Jarvish X is the more basic of the two models. It offers integrated microphones and speakers for Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa support so wearers have access things like directions, weather updates, and control music through voice control. There’s also a 2K, front-facing camera built into the helmet so you can record your ride. It’s set to cost $799 when it hits Kickstarter in January.

 

 

 

Microsoft's conference room of the future

 

From DSC:
Microsoft’s conference room of the future “listens” to the conversations of the team and provides a transcript of the meeting. It also is using “artificial intelligence tools to then act on what meeting participants say. If someone says ‘I’ll follow up with you next week,’ then they’ll get a notification in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft’s Slack competitor, to actually act on that promise.”

This made me wonder about our learning spaces in the future. Will an #AI-based device/cloud-based software app — in real-time — be able to “listen” to the discussion in a classroom and present helpful resources in the smart classroom of the future (i.e., websites, online-based databases, journal articles, and more)?

Will this be a feature of a next generation learning platform as well (i.e., addressing the online-based learning realm)? Will this be a piece of an intelligent tutor or an intelligent system?

Hmmm…time will tell.

 

 


 

Also see this article out at Forbes.com entitled, “There’s Nothing Artificial About How AI Is Changing The Workplace.” 

Here is an excerpt:

The New Meeting Scribe: Artificial Intelligence

As I write this, AI has already begun to make video meetings even better. You no longer have to spend time entering codes or clicking buttons to launch a meeting. Instead, with voice-based AI, video conference users can start, join or end a meeting by simply speaking a command (think about how you interact with Alexa).

Voice-to-text transcription, another artificial intelligence feature offered by Otter Voice Meeting Notes (from AISense, a Zoom partner), Voicefox and others, can take notes during video meetings, leaving you and your team free to concentrate on what’s being said or shown. AI-based voice-to-text transcription can identify each speaker in the meeting and save you time by letting you skim the transcript, search and analyze it for certain meeting segments or words, then jump to those mentions in the script. Over 65% of respondents from the Zoom survey said they think AI will save them at least one hour a week of busy work, with many claiming it will save them one to five hours a week.

 

 

Skype chats are coming to Alexa devices — from engadget.com by Richard Lawlor
Voice controlled internet calls to or from any device with Amazon’s system in it.

Excerpt:

Aside from all of the Alexa-connected hardware, there’s one more big development coming for Amazon’s technology: integration with Skype. Microsoft and Amazon said that voice and video calls via the service will come to Alexa devices (including Microsoft’s Xbox One) with calls that you can start and control just by voice.

 

 

Amazon Hardware Event 2018
From techcrunch.com

 

Echo HomePod? Amazon wants you to build your own — by Brian Heater
One of the bigger surprises at today’s big Amazon event was something the company didn’t announce. After a couple of years of speculation that the company was working on its own version of the Home…

 

 

The long list of new Alexa devices Amazon announced at its hardware event — by Everyone’s favorite trillion-dollar retailer hosted a private event today where they continued to…

 

Amazon introduces APL, a new design language for building Alexa skills for devices with screensAlong with the launch of the all-new Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device with a screen, Amazon also introduced a new design language for developers who want to build voice skills that include multimedia…

Excerpt:

Called Alexa Presentation Language, or APL, developers will be able to build voice-based apps that also include things like images, graphics, slideshows and video, and easily customize them for different device types – including not only the Echo Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm clock, the Echo Spot.

 

From DSC:
This is a great move by Amazon — as NLP and our voices become increasingly important in how we “drive” and utilize our computing devices.

 

 

Amazon launches an Echo Wall Clock, because Alexa is gonna be everywhere — by Sarah Perez

 

 

Amazon’s new Echo lineup targets Google, Apple and Sonos — from engadget.com by Nicole Lee
Alexa, dominate the industry.

The business plan from here is clear: Companies pay a premium to be activated when users pose questions related to their products and services. “How do you cook an egg?” could pull up a Food Network tutorial; “How far is Morocco?” could enable the Expedia app.
Also see how Alexa might be a key piece of smart classrooms in the future:
 

San Diego’s Nanome Inc. releases collaborative VR-STEM software for free — from vrscout.com by Becca Loux

Excerpt:

The first collaborative VR molecular modeling application was released August 29 to encourage hands-on chemistry experimentation.

The open-source tool is free for download now on Oculus and Steam.

Nanome Inc., the San Diego-based start-up that built the intuitive application, comprises UCSD professors and researchers, web developers and top-level pharmaceutical executives.

 

“With our tool, anyone can reach out and experience science at the nanoscale as if it is right in front of them. At Nanome, we are bringing the craftsmanship and natural intuition from interacting with these nanoscale structures at room scale to everyone,” McCloskey said.

 

San Diego’s Nanome Inc. Releases Collaborative VR-STEM Software For Free

 

 

10 ways VR will change life in the near future — from forbes.com

Excerpts:

  1. Virtual shops
  2. Real estate
  3. Dangerous jobs
  4. Health care industry
  5. Training to create VR content
  6. Education
  7. Emergency response
  8. Distraction simulation
  9. New hire training
  10. Exercise

 

From DSC:
While VR will have its place — especially for timeswhen you need to completely immerse yourself into another environment — I think AR and MR will be much larger and have a greater variety of applications. For example, I could see where instructions on how to put something together in the future could use AR and/or MR to assist with that process. The system could highlight the next part that I’m looking for and then highlight the corresponding parts where it goes — and, if requested, can show me a clip on how it fits into what I’m trying to put together.

 

How MR turns firstline workers into change agents — from virtualrealitypop.com by Charlie Finkand
Mixed Reality, a new dimension of work — from Microsoft and Harvard Business Review

Excerpts:

Workers with mixed-reality solutions that enable remote assistance, spatial planning, environmentally contextual data, and much more,” Bardeen told me. With the HoloLens Firstline Workers workers conduct their usual, day-to-day activities with the added benefit of a heads-up, hands-free, display that gives them immediate access to valuable, contextual information. Microsoft says speech services like Cortana will be critical to control along with gesture, according to the unique needs of each situation.

 

Expect new worker roles. What constitutes an “information worker” could change because mixed reality will allow everyone to be involved in the collection and use of information. Many more types of information will become available to any worker in a compelling, easy-to-understand way. 

 

 

Let’s Speak: VR language meetups — from account.altvr.com

 

 

 

 

Three AI and machine learning predictions for 2019 — from forbes.com by Daniel Newman

Excerpt:

What could we potentially see next year? New and innovative uses for machine learning? Further evolution of human and machine interaction? The rise of AI assistants? Let’s dig deeper into AI and machine learning predictions for the coming months.

 

2019 will be a year of development for the AI assistant, showing us just how powerful and useful these tools are. It will be in more places than your home and your pocket too. Companies such as Kia and Hyundai are planning to include AI assistants in their vehicles starting in 2019. Sign me up for a new car! I’m sure that Google, Apple, and Amazon will continue to make advancements to their AI assistants making our lives even easier.

 

 

DeepMind AI matches health experts at spotting eye diseases — from endgadget.com by Nick Summers

Excerpt:

DeepMind has successfully developed a system that can analyze retinal scans and spot symptoms of sight-threatening eye diseases. Today, the AI division — owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet — published “early results” of a research project with the UK’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. They show that the company’s algorithms can quickly examine optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans and make diagnoses with the same accuracy as human clinicians. In addition, the system can show its workings, allowing eye care professionals to scrutinize the final assessment.

 

 

Microsoft and Amazon launch Alexa-Cortana public preview for Echo speakers and Windows 10 PCs — from venturebeat.com by Khari Johnson

Excerpt:

Microsoft and Amazon will bring Alexa and Cortana to all Echo speakers and Windows 10 users in the U.S. [on 8/15/18]. As part of a partnership between the Seattle-area tech giants, you can say “Hey Cortana, open Alexa” to Windows 10 PCs and “Alexa, open Cortana” to a range of Echo smart speakers.

The public preview bringing the most popular AI assistant on PCs together with the smart speaker with the largest U.S. market share will be available to most people today but will be rolled out to all users in the country over the course of the next week, a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

Each of the assistants brings unique features to the table. Cortana, for example, can schedule a meeting with Outlook, create location-based reminders, or draw on LinkedIn to tell you about people in your next meeting. And Alexa has more than 40,000 voice apps or skills made to tackle a broad range of use cases.

 

 

What Alexa can and cannot do on a PC — from venturebeat.com by Khari Johnson

Excerpt:

Whatever happened to the days of Alexa just being known as a black cylindrical speaker? Since the introduction of the first Echo in fall 2014, Amazon’s AI assistant has been embedded in a number of places, including car infotainment systems, Alexa smartphone apps, wireless headphones, Echo Show and Fire tablets, Fire TV Cube for TV control, the Echo Look with an AI-powered fashion assistant, and, in recent weeks, personal computers.

Select computers from HP, Acer, and others now make Alexa available to work seamlessly alongside Microsoft’s Cortana well ahead of the Alexa-Cortana partnership for Echo speakers and Windows 10 devices, a project that still has no launch date.

 

 

‘The Beginning of a Wave’: A.I. Tiptoes Into the Workplace — from nytimes.com by Steve Lohr

Excerpt:

There is no shortage of predictions about how artificial intelligence is going to reshape where, how and if people work in the future.

But the grand work-changing projects of A.I., like self-driving cars and humanoid robots, are not yet commercial products. A more humble version of the technology, instead, is making its presence felt in a less glamorous place: the back office.

New software is automating mundane office tasks in operations like accounting, billing, payments and customer service. The programs can scan documents, enter numbers into spreadsheets, check the accuracy of customer records and make payments with a few automated computer keystrokes.

The technology is still in its infancy, but it will get better, learning as it goes. So far, often in pilot projects focused on menial tasks, artificial intelligence is freeing workers from drudgery far more often than it is eliminating jobs.

 

 

AI for Virtual Medical Assistants – 4 Current Applications — from techemergence.com by Kumba Sennaar

Excerpt:

In an effort to reduce the administrative burden of medical transcription and clinical documentation, researchers are developing AI-driven virtual assistants for the healthcare industry.

This article will set out to determine the answers to the following questions:

  • What types of AI applications are emerging to improve management of administrative tasks, such as logging medical information and appointment notes, in the medical environment?
  • How is the healthcare market implementing these AI applications?

 

Amazon’s Facial Recognition Wrongly Identifies 28 Lawmakers, A.C.L.U. Says — from nytimes.com by Natasha Singer

Excerpt:

In the test, the Amazon technology incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress with people who had been arrested, amounting to a 5 percent error rate among legislators.

The test disproportionally misidentified African-American and Latino members of Congress as the people in mug shots.

“This test confirms that facial recognition is flawed, biased and dangerous,” said Jacob Snow, a technology and civil liberties lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Northern California.

On Thursday afternoon, three of the misidentified legislators — Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois and Representative Mark DeSaulnier of California, all Democrats — followed up with a letter to Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, saying there are “serious questions regarding whether Amazon should be selling its technology to law enforcement at this time.”

 

Back from January:

 

 

 

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2018 | Daniel Christian