Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for February 2017

A Chorus Of Artificial Intelligence

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It was a big weekend in music… and in artificial intelligence.

Ford Motor Company announced that it had made Detroit’s biggest investment yet in self-driving technology, acquiring a majority stake in artificial intelligence startup Argo AI for $1 billion.

Silicon Angle reported that Argo was founded by veterans of self-driving car projects at Google and Uber, and that Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford under the new deal.

“As Ford expands to be an auto and a mobility company, we believe that investing in Argo AI will create significant value for our shareholders by strengthening Ford’s leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and by creating technology that could be licensed to others in the future,” said Ford President and Chief Executive Mark Fields.
– via SiliconANGLE

On a related AI front, Chorus.ai, a sound-centric AI firm looking to extract insights from audio, garnered a $16M Series A.

TechCrunch is reporting that Chorus will join conference calls, record and transcribe content in real-time, and then have its platform flag important action items and topics that came up over the duration of calls.

At press time, it was not yet clear what Chorus.ai would make of toilet sounds flushing in the background for those individuals who forgot to go on mute, but this blogger suspects it could lead to a whole other content types with respect to conference call actions.

Written by turbotodd

February 13, 2017 at 8:06 am

IBM Launches “Digital – Nation Africa,” Invests $70 Million to Bring Digital Skills to Africa with Free, Watson-Powered Skills Platform

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IBM is investing $70 million in building much-needed digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills to help support a 21st century workforce in Africa.

The initiative, “IBM Digital – Nation Africa”, provides a cloud-based learning platform designed to provide free skills development programs for up to 25 million African youths over five years, enabling digital competence and nurturing innovation in Africa.

This is part of IBM’s global push to build the next generation of skills needed for “New Collar” careers. “New Collar” is a term used by IBM to describe new kinds of careers that do not always require a four-year college degree but rather sought-after skills in cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence, cloud, and much more.

For the youth of Africa to be able to benefit from a cognitive future there needs to be a much higher level of digital literacy. At the top of the skills pyramid are developers, who need to know how to create solutions that can leverage the power of cognitive, and entrepreneurs who are aware of the potential.

IBM Digital – Nation Africa is designed to help raise overall digital literacy, increase the number of skilled developers able to tap into cognitive engines and enable entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs grow businesses around the new solutions.

Through a free, cloud-based online learning environment delivered on IBM Bluemix, the premier cloud platform for business, the initiative will provide a range of programs from basic IT literacy to highly sought-after advanced IT skills including social engagement, digital privacy, and cyber protection.

Advanced users will be able to explore career-oriented IT topics including programming, cybersecurity, data science and agile methodologies, as well as important business skills like critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The initiative aims to empower African citizens, entrepreneurs, and communities with the knowledge and tools to design, develop, and launch their own digital solutions.

Based on Watson, the cognitive online system will adapt and learn. It will review the multiple interactions the education initiative will have with students, to help direct them to the right courses and help IBM refine the courses to better adapt the material for the needs of the users.

Watson will also create a depth of knowledge using anonymous information gathered from interactions with the students. This will help entrepreneurs and developers understand which current Bluemix solutions best meet their needs and refine their idea to help them design a solution that has greatest market potential.

Written by turbotodd

February 8, 2017 at 8:59 am

IBM Launches Blockchain Initiative with Dubai Government Agencies

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IBM today announced a blockchain initiative with Dubai Customs, Dubai Trade, advancing Dubai’s government blockchain strategy. As part of the initiative, IBM is also working with leading businesses including Emirates NBD, du, Aramex, and Banco Santander

IBM is collaborating with Dubai Customs, Dubai Trade and its IT provider DUTECH, to explore the use of blockchain for a trade finance and logistics solution for the import and re-export process of goods in and out of Dubai.

Using Hyperledger Fabric and IBM Cloud, the blockchain solution transmits shipment data allowing key stakeholders to receive real-time information about the state of goods and the status of the shipment. Taking the example of a shipment of fruit, stakeholders involved in the process will receive timely updates as the fruit is exported from India to Dubai by sea, and then manufactured into juice in Dubai, and then exported as juice from Dubai to Spain by air.

Additionally, as part of the solution, IBM is also working withdu, a UAE-based telecommunications service provider that is conveying data from internet of things (IoT); Emirates NBD Bank, the letter of credit issuing bank; Banco Santander, the letter of credit responding bank; Aramex, the freight forwarder; and a leading Airline, as the airway carrier.

This trade finance and logistics blockchain-based solution aims to replace paper-based contracts with smart contracts; leverages Watson IoT for device-reported data to update or validate smart contracts; and integrates all the key trade process stakeholders from the ordering stage, in which the importer obtains a letter of credit from their bank, through the intermediary stages of freight and shipping, and ending with customs and payment.

In February 2016, the Dubai government declared its interest to position itself as a blockchain hub and embrace the technology. As part of this declaration, the Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation established the ‘Global Blockchain Council’ in which IBM is a member. Further, Dubai plans to execute all its transactions on a blockchain by 2020, as a part of its “Dubai Blockchain Strategy.”

A recent blockchain study, Building Trust in Governments, by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), found that several governmental organizations are embracing blockchain technology to promote more extensive collaboration. Nine out of 10 governmental organizations plan to invest in blockchain for use in financial transaction management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliance by 2018. And seven out of 10 government executives predict blockchain will significantly disrupt the area of contract management, which is often at the intersection of the public and private sector.

In the Middle East and Africa, nine out of 10 government executives surveyed see contract management as the greatest potential new business model. By using blockchains for contract management, issues such as the failure of any party to meet a deadline or complete a task, for example, could be more immediately visible. Transparency derived from contract management on blockchains could improve performance management. Governments will be able to use blockchains to explore new business models for providing services to citizens beyond the limits of current technology.

These models can be used to improve the efficiencies of current services, while expanding the ability to provide new services. IBM is rapidly expanding its blockchain capabilities and actively working with companies to understand what it takes to make blockchain ready for business. Financial services, supply chains, IoT, risk management, digital rights management and healthcare are some of the areas that are poised for dramatic change using blockchain networks.

For more information, visit: www.ibm.com/blockchain.

Written by turbotodd

February 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

A Public Snap

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Tech earnings season kicked into high gear this week. A few synthesized highlights…

Apple reported $78.4B in Q1 2017 revenue, with 78.3M iPhones sold and a 19% decline in iPad sales. Apple said developers earned $20B from the App Store in 2016, a 40% increase.

Microsoft reported Q2 revenue of $26.1B, indicating Office 365 revenue grew 10% for the quarter. Microsoft indicated its Azure revenue increased 116% in the most recent quarter, “doubling usage.” Surface was down 2% YOY, Phone revenue down 81%.

Facebook reported Q4 revenue of $8.81B, indicating its mobile ad revenue was on a trajectory of bringing in 84% of all ad revenue. Their Monthly Active Users was 1.86B, up 3.91% for the quarter, and last quarter the company said it’s expecting to run out of ad space in mid-2017. It’s not clear whether this sent digital media buyers everywhere scurrying or not.

Amazon reported Q4 revenue of $43.7B, up 22% YOY, and AWS continued to chug forward growing at 47% and delivering revenue of $3.53B. AWS noted it had migrated more than 18K databases using the company’s service in 2016. Echo sales were up 9X compared to last holiday season. “Alexa, crank up the volume.”

And finally, there’s Snap (formerly known as Snapchat). TechCrunch reported their official IPO filing has their revenues at $404M in 2016 with some 158M daily users. That was 500% YOY growth, according to its S-1, but that also incurred a $513M net loss. But Snap has asserted it has a very aggressive “time spent per user” and has strong international growth in Western Europe and Australia. It also recently introduced its Ads API to widen the aperture on its advertising efforts. Its IPO is expected to be the largest tech float since Alibaba in 2014.

Written by turbotodd

February 3, 2017 at 9:16 am

Where is Socks the Puppet?

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Are you ready for the Super Bowl LI??

Here’s a little sumpin’ sumpin’ from CBSSports, 51 things you need to know about about the Patriots v. Falcons in Houston.

I’m really looking forward to that part where NFL Commish Roger Goddell has to hand over that trophy to the Patriot’s QB Tom Brady.

“Tom, I don’t want to let the gas out of this, your record fifth Superbowl win!”

Oh, I’m sorry, did I skip right over that part where New England crushes the Falcons??! : ) My apologies, Falcon fans!

Actually, I don’t have a dog in this particular hunt — my Cowboys got left behind by the Packers and I’ve tried to never look back.

Looking forward instead, I am particularly interested in the Super Bowl TV commercials, as always. They seem so quaint these days, considering we just got our first Twitter president.

Forbes is reporting that budgets for Super Bowl spots have reached a new high, with the average production cost reaching north of $1M and companies spending an average of $5M for a 30-second time slot.

One sec, let me consult my good friend, IBM Watson…yeah…okay…okay, wow….thank you, Watson…so Watson says that comes out to $166,666 per second.

Watson also wanted you to know that 30 seconds is 3e+10 nanoseconds.

With that backdrop, here’s a few sneak previews of what to expect on Sunday, with my Turbo Rating (in parens) and pithy comment:

2017 Kia Niro | “Hero’s Journey” Starring Melissa McCarthy (B) — Melissa goes wild in the wild for the eco-firendly Kia Niro.

The Internet Wants You | GoDaddy Big Game Commercial (D) — Oh boy. Hardly the controversy we’ve come to expect from the Big Go Daddy on Super Bowl Sunday.

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster Commercial “Easy Driver” – Directed by The Coen Brothers (B+) — Hello there, Peter Fonda! Nice ride, and
a smooth spot directed by none other than the Coen Brothers.

Wendy’s 2017 Fresh Beef Commercial “Cold Storage” (C-) — The only thing this spot has going for it is Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice.” Dare I say it, but “where’s the beef?” Wendy’s would be better off keeping this on ice!

Budweiser 2017 Super Bowl Commercial | “Born The Hard Way” (B) — It may seem to be about the origin myth behind Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser founding fathers, but what it really seems to be is a political screed against our new president’s immigration policies. I’ll only say this: We’re a long way from Spuds McKenzie and the “Wassssup!?” bros!

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2017 at 9:29 am

Your Computer Can Help Smash Childhood Cancer

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Medical researchers and IBM are asking for the public’s help in finding prospective treatments for childhood cancers.

Scientists are searching for chemical drug candidates that can affect the key molecules and proteins that control cancer cells in several common childhood cancers. However, finding drug candidates is normally an expensive and slow process.

To accelerate the process and broaden the search, IBM is providing those scientists with free access to World Community Grid, an IBM-funded and managed program that advances scientific research by harnessing computing power “donated” by volunteers around the globe.

This resource is the equivalent of a virtual supercomputer that helps enable scientists to more quickly conduct millions of virtual experiments. These experiments aim to pinpoint promising drug candidates for further study.

In the U.S., the project was announced at a press conference led by Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, IBM, and Dr. Ching Lau of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Jackson Laboratory, and UConn School of Medicine, who is spearheading the effort in the United States. 

Volunteers don’t provide any time, money or technical expertise to assist with this research effort, called Smash Childhood Cancer.

Instead, they participate in World Community Grid by downloading and installing a free app on their computer or Android devices. While otherwise idle, volunteers’ devices automatically perform virtual experiments on behalf of the research team. The results are transmitted back to researchers, where they are analyzed.

Smash Childhood Cancer brings together an international team of expert researchers from Chiba University and Kyoto University in Japan; The University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong; and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the Jackson Laboratory, and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in the United States.

The global initiative is led by Dr. Akira Nakagawara, an internationally renowned pediatric oncologist, molecular biologist and CEO of the Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN, in Japan. Dr. Nakagawara used the same research approach on a previous World Community Grid project which successfully identified drug candidates for neuroblastoma, one of the most common cancers in children.

Smash Childhood Cancer expands the search for treatments for neuroblastoma, as well as other forms of childhood cancers including brain tumor, Wilms’ tumor (tumor of the kidney), germ cell tumors (which impact the reproductive and central nervous system), hepatoblastoma (cancer of the liver) and osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone).

Since 2004, IBM’s award-winning World Community Grid has provided this resource for 27 research projects in critical areas including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Zika and Ebola viruses, genetic mapping, sustainable energy, clean water, and ecosystem preservation.

To date, World Community Grid has connected researchers to half a billion U.S. dollars’ worth of free supercomputing power. This resource to accelerate scientific discovery, partially hosted in IBM’s cloud, has been fueled by 720,000 individuals and 440 institutions from 80 countries who have donated more than 1 million years of computing time on more than 3 million desktops, laptops, and Android mobile devices. 

Their participation has helped identify potential treatments for childhood cancer, more efficient solar cells, and more efficient water filtration materials.

World Community Grid is enabled by Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), an open source software platform developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Join World Community Grid today to enable your computer or Android device to help Smash Childhood Cancer.

Written by turbotodd

February 1, 2017 at 8:55 am

Jupiter Medical Center Implements Watson for Oncology

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IBM and Jupiter Medical Center today announced that Jupiter will adopt Watson for Oncology trained by Memorial Sloan Kettering, a cognitive computing platform to provide insights to physicians to help them deliver personalized, evidence-based cancer treatment. Jupiter is the first U.S. community hospital to adopt Watson for Oncology, which will go live at the facility in the beginning of March.

Dr. Abraham Schwarzberg, MD, chief of oncology at Jupiter Medical Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, reviews recommendations generated by IBM Watson for Oncology. (Image Courtesy of Jupiter Medical Center)

In the U.S., there will be an estimated 1.7M new cancer cases this year, with 125,000 in Florida alone. As healthcare providers and systems seek to enable data-driven, evidence-based cancer care, an explosion of medical information has created both challenges and opportunities to improve quality care. Currently, approximately 50,000 oncology research papers are published annually, and by 2020 medical information is projected to double every 73 days, outpacing the ability of humans to keep up with the proliferation of medical knowledge.

Watson for Oncology provides information to oncologists to help them deliver evidence-based treatment options by analyzing massive volumes of medical literature to identify individualized treatment options and scaling access to oncology expertise.

Watson for Oncology draws from more than 300 medical journals, more than 200 textbooks, and nearly 15 million pages of text to provide insights about different treatment options and also provides oncologists with information regarding drug options and administration instructions. Watson also ranks the evidence-based treatment options, linking to peer reviewed studies and clinical guidelines. Its machine-learning capability means it continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time.

”At Jupiter Medical Center, we are committed to pioneering new approaches to medicine and health care,” said John D. Couris, President and CEO of Jupiter Medical Center. “Watson for Oncology is part of our significant investment in creating a world-class cancer program and we are proud to be the first U.S. community hospital to arm our clinical team with this cutting-edge technology.”

IBM and MSK have been accelerating Watson for Oncology’s training; Watson for Oncology is now available to assist clinicians in developing treatment plans for breast, lung, colorectal, cervical, ovarian and gastric cancers.

IBM and MSK plan to train Watson on at least 9 additional cancer types this year, covering nearly 80 percent of the worldwide incidence of cancer.

“We were impressed by Watson’s analytical ability to help provide relevant treatment options for patients to allow physicians to personalize patient care in an unparalleled way,” said Abraham Schwarzberg, MD, Chief of Oncology at Jupiter Medical Center. “Harnessing the power of Watson will help our oncology multidisciplinary team identify individual treatments. As one of the first in the country to implement this incredible tool, Jupiter Medical Center continues to be a regional leader in integrating technology to provide cutting-edge clinical care.”

You can learn more about IBM Watson Health here.

Written by turbotodd

February 1, 2017 at 8:42 am

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