Discovery Education Collaborates with AWS to Enhance Recommendation Engine — from discoveryeducation.com

Excerpt:

SILVER SPRING, MD [On Monday,?September 27, 2021] — Discovery Education—a worldwide edtech leader supporting learning wherever it takes place — announced that it has enhanced its K-12 learning platform with Amazon Web Services (AWS) machine learning capabilities. The pioneering use of machine learning within the Discovery Education platform helps educators spend less time searching for digital resources and more time teaching.

Several months of planning and deep collaboration with AWS enabled Discovery Education to innovatively integrate Amazon Personalize technology into the “Just For You” area of its K-12 platform. The “Just For You” row connects educators to a unique, personalized set of resources based on the grade level taught, preferences, and assets used in the past.

“For some time, educators have desired more resources to help personalize teaching and learning. ML technology is already being used to curate our entertainment experiences, help with workforce productivity, and more, and it’s exciting to see this innovation is being integrated into classrooms,” said Alec Chalmers, Director, EdTech and GovTech Markets at AWS.

From DSC:
It looks like Amazon continues to make inroads into the education space. Team up this type of recommendation engine with an AI that’s pulling the latest skills that are needed for — and embedded within — job descriptions and you have a learning powerhouse. 

Disruption ahead…?

 

Learning from the living class room
Also see:

  • How Machine Learning Is Having an Impact on Education — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
    Discovery Education has partnered with Amazon Web Services to enhance its platform with machine learning. It’s one of many ways machine learning is being used in K-12 today.
 

Amazon offers to pay college tuition for most US workers — from cnn.com by Nathaniel Meyersohn

Excerpt:

New York (CNN Business)Amazon is offering to cover four-year college tuition for most of its approximately 750,000 hourly workers in the United States, the latest major employer to offer the perk to attract and retain hourly employees in a tight job market.

Starting in January, Amazon for the first time will pay for tuition, fees and books for warehouse, transportation and other hourly employees who want to pursue bachelor’s degrees. It will also begin covering high school diploma programs, GED’s and English as a Second Language (ESL) certifications for employees.

Amazon (AMZN) has not finalized a list of colleges workers will be eligible to attend using the benefit.

 

The Hardware and Materials Innovations Enabling Consumer Augmented Reality — from luxresearchinc.com by Vladimir Roznyatovskiy

Excerpt:

Consumer mass-market augmented reality (AR) products and applications could become a fourth wave of modern technological progress, following the PC and smartphone in transformative impact on nearly all aspects of life and business.

However, making widespread consumer AR a reality will require significant innovations in optical components, light engines, and cameras and sensors to reduce size and weight while improving performance. These advances will create significant opportunities for materials and hardware developers. It will be five years to seven years before these efforts translate into viable mass-market devices, but once they do, the opportunities for consumer insights and engagement will be tremendous and a significant source of competitive differentiation.

 

Many Americans aren’t aware they’re being tracked with facial recognition while shopping  — from techradar.com by Anthony Spadafora
You’re not just on camera, you’re also being tracked

Excerpt:

Despite consumer opposition to facial recognition, the technology is currently being used in retail stores throughout the US according to new research from Piplsay.

While San Francisco banned the police from using facial recognition back in 2019 and the EU called for a five year ban on the technology last year, several major retailers in the US including Lowe’s, Albertsons and Macy’s have been using it for both fraud and theft detection.

From DSC:
I’m not sure how prevalent this practice is…and that’s precisely the point. We don’t know what all of those cameras are actually doing in our stores, gas stations, supermarkets, etc. I put this in the categories of policy, law schools, legal, government, and others as the legislative and legal realm need to scramble to catch up to this Wild Wild West.

Along these lines, I was watching a portion of 60 minutes last night where they were doing a piece on autonomous trucks (reportedly to hit the roads without a person sometime later this year). When asked about oversight, there was some…but not much.

Readers of this blog will know that I have often wondered…”How does society weigh in on these things?”

Along these same lines, also see:

  • The NYPD Had a Secret Fund for Surveillance Tools — from wired.com by Sidney Fussell
    Documents reveal that police bought facial-recognition software, vans equipped with x-ray machines, and “stingray” cell site simulators—with no public oversight.
 

Recording of “The Future of Education Collaborative for Higher Education” on 8/12/21 — this event was sponsored by Instructure and AWS

From DSC:
One of the most interesting items for me in this was to hear how one university is allowing students to drive the Request For Proposal (RFP) process – giving students much more VOICE. Staff and faculty are consultants but students have the final say! Wow! 

Also, I agree with the idea that the market will drive changes within higher education. But for that to occur more significantly:

  • Employers need to hire more people from a variety of backgrounds and that come into their interviews with a greater variety of credentials.
  • The accrediting agencies involved with higher ed are going to need to become more innovative and flexible.
  • And the elephant in the room for me is that faculty members are going to have to come to the realization that those organizations/courses of the future that will thrive and have the most impact will be much more team-based and will be based upon what the market needs (i.e., better alignment is needed between the corporate/business world and the world of higher education). For far too long, the faculty member has been the sole person at the table….the person holding the steering wheel…the person in control of everything that gets presented and how it gets presented….the person who decides what they want to teach (vs. what the market actually needs) and how they want to teach it.

Finally, I bet AWS and Zoom could have said a LOT more than they actually said.

#learningfromthelivingclassroom

 

Top 10 Free Coding Resources for Students — from gocoderz.com

Excerpt:

With computer science and technology being such a crucial part of student’s future success, it’s important that every student receives equitable access to programs and resources that can help them build their coding and programming knowledge early on. Exposure to coding resources increases student interest in computer science and technology careers and provides them with foundational knowledge that they can improve and refine as their education progresses to be successful in these future professions.

 

 

 

Amazon Web Services, Arizona State to offer for-credit cloud education to 10K high schoolers — from highereddive.com by Natalie Schwartz

Excerpt:

Amazon Web Services is working with the nonprofit National Education Equity Lab to offer cloud computing classes to high school students in low-income districts, the company announced Wednesday.

 

 

AI voice actors sound more human than ever —and they’re ready to hire— from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao
A new wave of startups are using deep learning to build synthetic voice actors for digital assistants, video-game characters, and corporate videos.

Excerpt:

The company blog post drips with the enthusiasm of a ’90s US infomercial. WellSaid Labs describes what clients can expect from its “eight new digital voice actors!” Tobin is “energetic and insightful.” Paige is “poised and expressive.” Ava is “polished, self-assured, and professional.”

Each one is based on a real voice actor, whose likeness (with consent) has been preserved using AI. Companies can now license these voices to say whatever they need. They simply feed some text into the voice engine, and out will spool a crisp audio clip of a natural-sounding performance.

But the rise of hyperrealistic fake voices isn’t consequence-free. Human voice actors, in particular, have been left to wonder what this means for their livelihoods.

And below are a couple of somewhat related items:

Amazon’s latest voice interoperability move undermines Google — from protocol.com by Janko Roettgers
With a new toolkit, Amazon is making it easier to build devices that run multiple voice assistants — weakening one of Google’s key arguments against licensing the Google Assistant for such scenarios.

People should be able to pick whatever assistant they prefer for any given task, simply by invoking different words, Rubenson said. “We think it’s critical that customers have choice and flexibility,” he said. “Each will have their own strengths and capabilities.”

Protocol Next Up — from protocol.com by Janko Roettgers
Defining the future of tech and entertainment with Janko Roettgers.

Voice is becoming a true developer ecosystem. Amazon now has more than 900,000 registered Alexa developers, who collectively have built over 130,000 Alexa skills. And those skills are starting to show up in more and more places: “We now have hundreds of physical products” with Alexa built in, Alexa Voice Service & Alexa Skills VP Aaron Rubenson told me this week.

 

Amazon Contractors Are Revolting, Here Are Their Demands — from interestingengineering.com by Loukia Papadopoulos
Two major delivery partners announced they chose to shut down rather than keep sating Amazon’s draconian demands.

Excerpt:

The firms essentially offered Amazon an ultimatum to either agree to a set of conditions that they said would improve driver safety, or they would shut down — well, Amazon is their only client. Amazon refused, and the two companies actually followed through with their ultimatum.

From DSC:
Our son, who is college age, worked at an Amazon distribution center last summer. He is typically a healthy person. But his back and knees did not do well over the summer. After just a few weeks of having to meet an aggressive (and constant) quota of items being shipped, pains and issues started appearing. I don’t know how some of their employees keep up the pace that they are required to maintain…hour after hour after hour after hour…day after day, month after month.

Also see:

Amazon is destroying millions of unsold goods, from smart TVs to laptops — from fastcompany.com by Lucy Wishart
An Amazon warehouse exposé in the UK underscores a larger problem with how goods are treated as disposable.

Excerpt:

A recent undercover investigation in an Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline, Scotland, reported the disposal of more than 130,000 “new or lightly used” objects in a single week in just that one location. Public outrage was clear. Questions were asked about how Amazon could be so wasteful and why weren’t the usable objects sent to those in need?

 

 

Gov. Kemp Announces Technical Skills Training Commitment to Prepare 5,500 Georgians for Cloud Computing Careers — from gov.georgia.gov

Excerpt:

Atlanta, GA — [On June 9th], Governor Brian P. Kemp announced a collaborative initiative between the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE), the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide cloud computing training and education to 5,500 learners statewide by 2024. Through this initiative, high schools and technical colleges in Georgia will offer cloud computing courses and credentials that align with skills needed to pursue in-demand technical careers.

“The tech industry in Georgia is rapidly growing with exciting job opportunities for Georgians,” said Governor Kemp. “This collaboration with AWS will ensure our citizens have access to innovative training and education to help prepare them for tech jobs in Georgia.”

 

From DSC:
Again, as you can see from the items below…there are various plusses and minuses regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some of the items below are neither positive or negative, but I found them interesting nonetheless.


How Amazon is tackling the A.I. talent crunch — from fortune.com by Jonathan Vanian

Excerpt:

“One way Amazon has adapted to the tight labor market is to require potential new programming hires to take classes in machine learning, said Bratin Saha, a vice president and general manager of machine learning services at Amazon. The company’s executives believe they can teach these developers machine learning basics over a few weeks so that they can work on more cutting-edge projects after they’re hired.”

“These are not formal college courses, and Saha said the recruits aren’t graded like they would be in school. Instead, the courses are intended to give new developers a foundation in machine learning and statistics so they can understand the theoretical underpinnings.”

Machine Learning Can Predict Rapid Kidney Function Decline — from sicklecellanemianews.com by Steve Bryson PhD; with thanks to Sam DeBrule for this resource

Excerpt:

Machine learning tools can identify sickle cell disease (SCD) patients at high risk of progressive kidney disease as early as six months in advance, a study shows.  The study, “Using machine learning to predict rapid decline of kidney function in sickle cell anemia,” was published in the journal eJHaem.

NYPD’s Sprawling Facial Recognition System Now Has More Than 15,000 Cameras — from vice.com by Todd Feathers; with thanks to Sam DeBrule for this resource
The massive camera network is concentrated in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods, according to a new crowdsourced report.

Excerpt:

The New York City Police Department has built a sprawling facial recognition network that may include more than 15,000 surveillance cameras in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, according to a massive crowdsourced investigation by Amnesty International.

“This sprawling network of cameras can be used by police for invasive facial recognition and risk turning New York into an Orwellian surveillance city,” Matt Mahmoudi, an artificial intelligence and human rights researcher at Amnesty, wrote in the group’s report. “You are never anonymous. Whether you’re attending a protest, walking to a particular neighbourhood, or even just grocery shopping—your face can be tracked by facial recognition technology using imagery from thousands of camera points across New York.”

Related to that article is this one:

The All-Seeing Eyes of New York’s 15,000 Surveillance Cameras — from wired.com by Sidney Fussell
Video from the cameras is often used in facial-recognition searches. A report finds they are most common in neighborhoods with large nonwhite populations.

Excerpt:

A NEW VIDEO from human rights organization Amnesty International maps the locations of more than 15,000 cameras used by the New York Police Department, both for routine surveillance and in facial-recognition searches. A 3D model shows the 200-meter range of a camera, part of a sweeping dragnet capturing the unwitting movements of nearly half of the city’s residents, putting them at risk for misidentification. The group says it is the first to map the locations of that many cameras in the city.

Don’t End Up on This Artificial Intelligence Hall of Shame — from wired.com by Tom Simonite
A list of incidents that caused, or nearly caused, harm aims to prompt developers to think more carefully about the tech they create.

Excerpt:

The AI Incident Database is hosted by Partnership on AI, a nonprofit founded by large tech companies to research the downsides of the technology. The roll of dishonor was started by Sean McGregor, who works as a machine learning engineer at voice processor startup Syntiant. He says it’s needed because AI allows machines to intervene more directly in people’s lives, but the culture of software engineering does not encourage safety.

 

10 takeaways from Big Tech’s big earnings — from protocol.com by David Pierce
What Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon earnings say about the state of tech.

 

 

Shhhh, they’re listening: Inside the coming voice-profiling revolution — from fastcompany.com by Josephy Turow
Marketers are on the verge of using AI-powered technology to make decisions about who you are and what you want based purely on the sound of your voice.

Excerpt:

When conducting research for my forthcoming book, The Voice Catchers: How Marketers Listen In to Exploit Your Feelings, Your Privacy, and Your Wallet, I went through over 1,000 trade magazine and news articles on the companies connected to various forms of voice profiling. I examined hundreds of pages of U.S. and EU laws applying to biometric surveillance. I analyzed dozens of patents. And because so much about this industry is evolving, I spoke to 43 people who are working to shape it.

It soon became clear to me that we’re in the early stages of a voice-profiling revolution that companies see as integral to the future of marketing.

From DSC:
Hhhhmmm….

 

Digital upskilling in legal: More than just new technology — from legalexecutiveinstitute.com by Bob Dolinsky; with thanks to Gabe Teninbaum for this resource

Excerpt:

How many law firms have digital upskilling programs for their lawyers and staff members? Based on what I hear and read, very few, if any.

Amazon, for example, recently announced a commitment of more than $700 million to its “Upskilling 2025” program, an internal training initiative designed to promote customer satisfaction and worker advancement. Another example is PwC, which has a digital upskilling program to develop its in-house talent pool called “New world. New skills.” In 2019, PwC announced that it would invest $3 billion into job training for its 275,000 employees around the world, enhancing its workforce and client service delivery to better address emerging digital needs.

The goals of these and similar initiatives is to help ensure that employees have the skills in the digital arena to be successful, to position these organizations as preferred employers, and to provide customer and client service excellence.

Also from Gabe:

“Virtual justice” (the preferred, if unsettling, term) is an emergency response to a dire situation. But it is also a vision some judicial innovators had long tried to realize. One leading booster, Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, told me that going online can make courts not only safer but “more transparent, more accessible, and more convenient.” Witnesses, jurors, and litigants no longer need to miss hours of work and fight traffic. Attorneys with cases in multiple courts can jump from one to another by swiping on their phones.

 

Clicking this image will take you to the 2021 Tech Trends Report -- from the Future Today Institute

14th Annual Edition | 2021 Tech Trends Report — from the Future Today Institute

Our 2021 Tech Trends Report is designed to help you confront deep uncertainty, adapt and thrive. For this year’s edition, the magnitude of new signals required us to create 12 separate volumes, and each report focuses on a cluster of related trends. In total, we’ve analyzed  nearly 500 technology and science trends across multiple industry sectors. In each volume, we discuss the disruptive forces, opportunities and strategies that will drive your organization in the near future.

Now, more than ever, your organization should examine the potential near and long-term impact of tech trends. You must factor the trends in this report into your strategic thinking for the coming year, and adjust your planning, operations and business models accordingly. But we hope you will make time for creative exploration. From chaos, a new world will come.

Some example items noted in this report:

  • Natural language processing is an area experiencing high interest, investment, and growth.
  • + No-code or low-code systems are unlocking new use cases for businesses.
  • Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google Cloud’s low-code and no-code offerings will trickle down to everyday people, allowing them to create their own artificial intelligence applications and deploy them as easily as they could a website.
  • The race is on to capture AI cloudshare—and to become the most trusted provider of AI on remote servers.
  • COVID-19 accelerated the use of AI in drug discovery last year. The first trial of an AI-discovered drug is underway in Japan.
 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian