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Alexa, Buy Graphiq

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Amazon’s doing some shopping of its own, this week acquiring Santa Barbara-based data analytics and search engine startup Graphiq for an estimated $50M.

According to Crunchbase, Graphiq positioned itself as a data aggregation and visualization company focused on turning cmoplicated data into contextually-rich presentations of the world’s knowledge.

The company was founded in 2009 as “FindTheBest,” according to the LA Times, and was co-founded with former DoubleClick CEO and Founder, Kevin O’Connor.

How will Graphiq’s technology possibly be used in the Amazon?

The technology Graphiq has developed to connect the dots between billions of pieces of information could be valuable to Amazon as it tries to make Alexa smarter. Akin to Siri on the iPhone, Alexa answers queries about the weather, sports and other topics on devices such as Amazon’s Echo speaker. Last year, Graphiq produced a now-unavilable Alexa app that aimed to answer questions such as “What is the fastest 2016 sedan?” according to app aggregation website ChatBottle. Amazon also gave Graphiq access to a database about books to put its technology to the test, according to a source.
– via latimes.com

Written by turbotodd

July 21, 2017 at 10:41 am

IBM and University of Alberta Publish New Data on Machine Learning Algorithms to Help Predict Schizophrenia

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IBM scientists and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, have published new data in Nature’s partner journal, Schizophrenia1, demonstrating that AI and machine learning algorithms helped predict instances of schizophrenia with 74% accuracy.

This retrospective analysis also showed the technology predicted the severity of specific symptoms in schizophrenia patients with significant correlation, based on correlations between activity observed across different regions of the brain. This pioneering research could also help scientists identify more reliable objective neuroimaging biomarkers that could be used to predict schizophrenia and its severity.

Schizophrenia is a chronic and debilitating neurological disorder that affects 7 or 8 out of every 1,000 people. Those with schizophrenia can experience hallucinations, delusions or thought disorders, along with cognitive impairments, such as an inability to pay attention and physical impairments, such as movement disorders.

“This unique, innovative multidisciplinary approach opens new insights and advances our understanding of the neurobiology of schizophrenia, which may help to improve the treatment and management of the disease,” says Dr. Serdar Dursun, a Professor of Psychiatry & Neuroscience with the University of Alberta. “We’ve discovered a number of significant abnormal connections in the brain that can be explored in future studies, and AI-created models bring us one step closer to finding objective neuroimaging-based patterns that are diagnostic and prognostic markers of schizophrenia.”

In the paper, researchers analyzed de-identified brain functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data from the open data set, Function Biomedical Informatics Research Network (fBIRN) for patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders, as well as a healthy control group. fMRI measures brain activity through blood flow changes in particular areas of the brain.

Specifically, the fBIRN data set reflects research done on brain networks at different levels of resolution, from data gathered while study participants conducted a common auditory test. Examining scans from 95 participants, researchers used machine learning techniques to develop a model of schizophrenia that identifies the connections in the brain most associated with the illness.

The results of the IBM and University of Alberta research demonstrated that, even on more challenging neuroimaging data collected from multiple sites (different machines, across different groups of subjects etc.) the machine learning algorithm was able to discriminate between patients with schizophrenia and the control group with 74% accuracy using the correlations in activity across different areas of the brain. 

Additionally, the research showed that functional network connectivity could also help determine the severity of several symptoms after they have manifested in the patient, including inattentiveness, bizarre behavior and formal thought disorder, as well as alogia, (poverty of speech) and lack of motivation.

The prediction of symptom severity could lead to a more quantitative, measurement-based characterization of schizophrenia; viewing the disease on a spectrum, as opposed to a binary label of diagnosis or non-diagnosis. This objective, data-driven approach to severity analysis could eventually help clinicians identify treatment plans that are customized to the individual. 

“The ultimate goal of this research effort is to identify and develop objective, data-driven measures for characterizing mental states, and apply them to psychiatric and neurological disorders” said Ajay Royyuru, Vice President of Healthcare & Life Sciences, IBM Research. “We also hope to offer new insights into how AI and machine learning can be used to analyze psychiatric and neurological disorders to aid psychiatrists in their assessment and treatment of patients.”

The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative of NIMH emphasizes the importance of objective measurements in psychiatry. This field, often referred to as “computational psychiatry”, aims to use modern technology and data driven approaches to improve evidence-based medical decision making in psychiatry, a field that often relies upon subjective evaluation approaches.

As part of the ongoing partnership, researchers will continue to investigate areas and connections in the brain that hold significant links to schizophrenia. Work will continue on improving the algorithms by conducting machine learning analysis on larger datasets, and by exploring ways to extend these techniques to other psychiatric disorders such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

You can learn more about IBM Watson Health solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

July 21, 2017 at 9:21 am

A Mammoth Customer Base

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IBM today announced that Mammoth Resorts, the leading four-season mountain resort operator in California, is using Watson Customer Engagement solutions on the IBM Cloud to create customized offers that are helping to drive record numbers of visitors to the resort every year.

One challenge facing year-round travel destinations such as Mammoth is attracting consumers who often visit multiple location web sites to research potential getaways only to hold off on making a firm decision until they’ve assessed all of their options.

For Mammoth, the question was how to bring prospective customers back to the Mammoth website to ultimately book a trip in advance of peak vacation periods.

With cloud-based Watson Marketing solutions, Mammoth is able to closely monitor customer activity on their website including where visitors are spending most of their time, what they were looking at, whether they left their shopping cart empty and more.

With these details, Mammoth is triggering responsive email campaigns that feature deals on the very items customers were viewing such as a free night’s stay on their next visit. The team can then track which promotions are most successful in sparking return visits to the site.

Since launching these campaigns, the results were almost instantaneous, with email click through rates climbing from 8 percent to 34 percent year-over-year, a growth of 325 percent.

In addition to attracting new guests, IBM Watson Customer Engagement is helping Mammoth build customer loyalty through timely, personalized campaigns that take into account each person’s preferences based on past stays. 

Mammoth Resorts then uses these details to proactively recommend trips, such as a return stay during the February winter break for summer guests that includes the same number of rooms and discounts on lift tickets.

Mammoth also automatically delivers guest alerts around birthdays, booking anniversaries and more, with each communication including special deals on both lodging and other items such as lift tickets as well as recommendations on, for example, off-season vacations options such as a summer mountain bike trip for the family.

You can learn more about IBM Watson Customer Engagement solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

July 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

IBM Scientists Observe Elusive Gravitational Effect in Solid-State Physics

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An international team of physicists, materials scientists and string theoreticians have observed a phenomenon on Earth that was previously thought to only occur hundreds of light years away or at the time when the universe was born. This result could lead to a more evidence-based model for the understanding the universe and for improving the energy-conversion process in electronic devices.

Using a recently discovered material called a Weyl semimetal, similar to 3D graphene, scientists at IBM Research have mimicked a gravitational field in their test sample by imposing a temperature gradient. The study was supervised by Prof. Kornelius Nielsch, Director at the Leibniz Institute for Materials and Solid State Research Dresden (IFW) and Prof. Claudia Felser, Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden.

After conducting the experiment in a cryolab at the University of Hamburg with high magnetic fields, a team of theoreticians from TU DresdenUC Berkeley and the Instituto de Fisica Teorica UAM/CSIC   confirmed with detailed calculations that they observed a quantum effect known as an axial-gravitational anomaly, which breaks one of the classical conservation laws, such as charge, energy and momentum.

This law-breaking anomaly had previously been derived in purely theoretical reasoning with methods based on string theory. It was believed to exist only at extremely high temperatures of trillions of degrees, as an exotic form of matter, called a quark-gluon plasma, at the early stages of the universe deep within the cosmos or created using particle colliders.

But to their surprise, the researchers discovered that it also exists on Earth in the properties of solid-state physics, on which much of the computing industry is based on, spanning from tiny transistors to cloud data centers. This discovery is appearing today in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

“For the first time, we have experimentally observed this fundamental quantum anomaly on Earth which is extremely important towards our understanding of the universe,” said Dr. Johannes Gooth, an IBM Research scientist and lead author of the paper. “We can now build novel solid-state devices based on this anomaly that have never been considered before to potentially circumvent some of the problems inherent in classical electronic devices, such as transistors.”

“This is an incredibly exciting discovery. We can clearly conclude that the same breaking of symmetry can be observed in any physical system, whether it occurred at the beginning of the universe or is happening today, right here on Earth,” said Prof. Dr. Karl Landsteiner, a string theorist at the Instituto de Fisica Teorica UAM/CSIC and co-author of the paper.

IBM scientists predict this discovery will open up a rush of new developments around sensors, switches and thermoelectric coolers or energy-harvesting devices, for improved power consumption.

Read more at: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/research/2017/07/scientists-observe-gravitational-anomaly-on-earth/

Written by turbotodd

July 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm

London Stock Exchange Group Collaborating with IBM on Blockchain Solution

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Borsa Italiana, part of London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) and IBM today announced they are building a blockchain solution to digitize the issuance of securities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.

Designed to simplify the tracking and management of shareholding information, the new system intends to create a distributed shared registry containing a record of all shareholder transactions, helping to open up new opportunities for trading and investing. 

“Through our work with IBM on this blockchain solution, Borsa Italiana is taking the lead in transforming the way European SMEs can manage their shareholder data and at the same time expand credit access – all on a trusted digital platform,” said Raffaele Jerusalmi, CEO, Borsa Italiana.

The blockchain solution for unlisted SMEs in Europe is designed to replace the paper trading certificates that are commonly issued to private companies today.

With a more digitized, streamlined and transparent process enabled by the blockchain solution, various parties – including issuers, regulators and investors – will have increased insight into company information.

Traditionally, private SMEs lack access to public stock exchange networks or formalized credit structures. With this solution, SMEs in Europe can better access credit and link into a broader and more mature investor ecosystem, enabling them to set up new trading networks and obtain funding by sharing financial data in a security-rich and transparent public arena.

By implementing the blockchain solution, Borsa Italiana is taking the lead in transforming how private companies can exchange and bring transparency around shareholder data and expand credit access.

Built on Hyperledger Fabric version 1.0, a blockchain framework and and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation, the system is designed to help ensure that highly sensitive securities data can be shared amongst permissioned network participants while remaining secure and gated.

This blockchain solution, developed in collaboration with IBM, is built on highly secure infrastructure technology that provides the highest levels of encryption commercially available. The solution is also built to achieve interoperability with LSEG’s existing systems, promoting efficiency and business continuity.

You can learn more about IBM Blockchain solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

July 19, 2017 at 10:15 am

IBM Reports 2017 Second-Quarter Results

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IBM reported 2017 second-quarter results…highlights:

  • Diluted EPS from continuing operations: GAAP of $2.48; Operating (non-GAAP) of $2.97
  • Revenue from continuing operations of $19.3 billion
  • Strategic imperatives revenue of $34.1 billion over the trailing 12 months, up 11 percent (up 12 percent adjusting for currency); represents 43 percent of IBM revenue
    • First half revenue up 8 percent (up 10 percent adjusting for currency)
    • Second quarter revenue up 5 percent (up 7 percent adjusting for currency
  • Cloud revenue of $15.1 billion over the trailing 12 months
  • As-a-service annual exit run rate of $8.8 billion in the quarter, up 30 percent year to  year (up 32 percent adjusting for currency)
  • Maintains full-year EPS and free cash flow expectations

“In the second quarter, we strengthened our position as the enterprise cloud leader and added more of the world’s leading companies to the IBM Cloud,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer.  “We continue to innovate, adding regtech capabilities to our portfolio of Watson offerings; developing solutions based on emerging technologies such as Blockchain; and reinventing the IBM mainframe by enabling clients to encrypt all data, all the time.”

More details here.

Written by turbotodd

July 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Posted in 2017, earnings, ibm, wall street

New IBM Mainframe Users in New Era of Data Protection

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IBM today unveiled IBM Z, the next generation of the IBM mainframe, capable of running more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day.

The new system also introduces a breakthrough encryption engine that, for the first time, makes it possible to pervasively encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service or database all the time.

IBM Z’s new data encryption capabilities are designed to address the global epidemic of data breaches, a major factor in the $8 trillion cybercrime impact on the global economy by 2022.

Of the more than nine billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only four percent were encrypted, making the vast majority of such data vulnerable to organized cybercrime rings, state actors and employees misuing access to sensitive information.

You can learn more about the new IBM Z system here.

Written by turbotodd

July 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm

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