Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘AI’ Category

Where’s My Driver?!

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Ars Technica is reporting that Waymo now has cars driving on the public roads in the Phoenix area with no one in the driver’s seat.

Until recently, the story explains, the company’s modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans had a Waymo employee in the driver’s seat ready to take control if the car malfunctioned.

Not anymore. Check out the video here:

Ya kinda have to see it to believe it.

And so it begins.

Written by turbotodd

November 7, 2017 at 2:25 pm

IBM Expands Watson Data Platform to Help Unleash AI

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 IBM today announced new offerings to its Watson Data Platform, including data cataloging and data refining, which is designed to make it easier for developers and data scientists to analyze and prepare enterprise data for AI applications, regardless of its structure or where it resides. By improving data visibility and helping to better enforce data security policies, users can now connect and share data across public and private cloud environments.

By 2018, nearly 75 percent of developers will build AI functionality into their apps, according to IDC. However, they also face the obstacle of making sense of increasingly complex data that lives in different places, and that must be securely and continually ingested to power these apps.

Addressing these challenges, IBM has expanded the functionality of its Watson Data Platform, an integrated set of tools, services and data on the IBM Cloud designed to enable data scientists, developers and business teams to gain intelligence from the data most important to their roles, as well as easily access services like machine learning, AI and analytics.

“We are always looking for new ways to gain a more holistic view of our clients’ campaign data, and design tailored approaches for each ad and marketing tactic,” said Michael Kaushansky, Chief Data Officer at Havas, a global advertising and marketing consultancy. “The Watson Data Platform is helping us do just that by quickly connecting offline and online marketing data. For example, we recently kicked off a test for one of our automotive clients, aiming to connect customer data, advertising information in existing systems, and online engagement metrics to better target the right audiences at the right time.”

Specifically, this expansion includes:

  • New Data Catalog and Data Refinery offerings, which bring together datasets that live in different formats on the cloud, in existing systems and in third party sources; as well as apply machine learning to process and cleanse this data so it can be ingested for AI applications;
  • The ability to use metadata, pulled from Data Catalog and Data Refinery, to tag and help enforce a client’s data governance policies. This gives teams a foundation to more easily identify risks when sharing sensitive data.
  • The general availability of Analytics Engine to separate the storage of data from the information it holds, allowing it to be analyzed and fed into apps at much greater speeds. As a result, developers and data scientists can more easily share and build with large datasets.

More details on the new offerings of the IBM Watson Data Platform may be found here.

To further help companies grasp control of all of their data no matter where it resides, IBM is also announcing a series of new features to its Unified Governance Platform. These bring greater visibility and management of clients’ global data, including new capabilities that help clients as they better prepare for impending data protection regulations such as GDPR.

Built on open source technologies and fueled by IBM Cloud, the Watson Data Platform brings together IBM’s cloud infrastructure, powerful data services and decades of experience helping clients across industries solve their data challenges. Linked closely with the most popular communities among data scientists and developers, including Python and Spark, the Watson Data Platform continues to evolve to build the most open and complete data operating system on the cloud.

For more information on the Watson Data Platform, visit: https://www.ibm.com/analytics/us/en/watson-data-platform/.

To try and explore the Watson Data Platform, visit the tutorial: www.ibm.biz/wdptutorial.

Written by turbotodd

November 2, 2017 at 9:52 am

Better AI

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Happy Monday.

That was some baseball game last night between the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.

The Astros go down 4-0 early, then come back and tie the game, and then the score seesaws back and forth all the way through the bottom of the tenth before Houston’s Bregman hit a walk-off single to drive in the winning run.

No AI-driven computer simulation could likely have foreseen such an insane game with that outcome.

Then again, we might out imagine what would might become of us if it could.

Which is why the Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include IBM, Amazon, Facebook, and Oracle, have listed five areas to improve the development of artificial intelligence.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, suggestions include designing autonomous systems that are consistent with international conventions and preserve human rights; prioritizing user safety; using large, representative data sets while identifying potential bias; and creating accountability frameworks to assuage concerns over liability when AI takes action after making a decision.

You can read the full ITI AI Policy Principles here.

 

Written by turbotodd

October 30, 2017 at 9:47 am

Keep An Eye on Those Algos

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If you want to get a fresh look into our collective AI future, look no further than ProPublica’s recent report on how it was able to target pitches to the news feeds of “Jew haters” and similar anti-Semetic propensities.

In their test, ProPublica indicated they paid $30 to target such groups with three “promoted” posts, which then displayed a ProPublica article or post in those users’ feeds.

ProPublica indicates that Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes.

They report Facebook immediately removed the categories once contacted, but what was most interesting about the experiment was that they had originally been created by algorithms, not we mere mortals.

Facebook’s Rob Leathern indicated “We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future.”

Uh, yeah, little bit.

This is only one minor example of the role algorithms are going to play in the brave new world where fallible humans continue to shape policy and protocols for their algorithmic counterparts.

In December of last year, Harvard Business Review published a story entitled “Hiring Algorithms Are Not Neutral.” In that story, they wrote that “algorithms are, in part, our opinions embedded in code. They reflect human biases and prejudices that lead to machine learning mistakes and misinterpretations. This bias shows up in numerous aspects of our lives, including algorithms used for electronic discovery, teacher evaluations, car insurance, credit score rankings, and university admissions.”

Another example more specific to the HR focus of the piece:

At their core, algorithms mimic human decision making. They are typically trained to learn from past successes, which may embed existing bias. For example, in a famous experiment, recruiters reviewed identical resumes and selected more applicants with white-sounding names than with black-sounding ones. If the algorithm learns what a “good” hire looks like based on that kind of biased data, it will make biased hiring decisions. The result is that automatic resume screening software often evaluates job applicants based on subjective criteria, such as one’s name. By latching on to the wrong features, this approach discounts the candidate’s true potential.
– via Harvard Business Review

So how to avoid algorithmic bias as we start to allow the machines conduct more of the necessary, but often mundane, tasks we humans prefer to avoid?

In the case of HR, they suggest organizations stop making hard screening decisions based solely on an algorithm. Encourage human reviews that will ask experienced people who have through bias training to oversee selection and evaluation.

But doesn’t that divert unnecessary resources back to us humans when the machines are supposed to now do all the work?

Well, yes, but it’s kind of difficult to get hired if the perfect machine is using its algos to hire an imperfect human.

 

Written by turbotodd

September 15, 2017 at 9:18 am

Posted in 2017, AI, HR, machine learning

Codify Academy Users IBM Cloud, Watson to Design Cognitive Chatbot

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IBM recently announced that Codify Academy, a San Francisco-based developer education startup, tapped into IBM Cloud’s cognitive services to create an interactive cognitive chatbot, Bobbot, that is improving student experiences and increasing enrollment.

Using the IBM Watson Conversation Service, Bobbot fields questions from prospective and current students in natural language via the company’s website.

Since implementing the chatbot, Codify Academy has engaged thousands of potential leads through live conversation between the bot and site visitors, leading to a 10 percent increase in converting these visitors into students.

IBM Cloud with Watson provided Codify Academy with the speed and scale needed to immediately start building with cognitive intelligence. Bobbot can answer more than 200 common questions about enrollment, course and program details, tuition, and prerequisites, in turn enabling Codify Academy staff to focus on deeper, more meaningful exchanges.

For example, students can ask questions such as “What kind of job will I be able to find after I complete the program?” or “How do I apply, and what are tuition rates?”

“We saw a huge spike in interest from potential students in the early days of our company, which is a fortunate problem to have, but made us realize we needed to quickly build a solution to help us scale,” said Matt Brody at Codify Academy. “IBM Cloud gave us the infrastructure and access to cognitive services, including Watson, that we needed to quickly build and deploy an intelligent and intuitive bot – in turn helping us to field all inquiries and significantly increase enrollment.”

Codify Academy runs on the IBM Cloud platform, which has become one of the largest open, public cloud deployments in the world. It features more than 150 tools and services, spanning categories of cognitive intelligence, blockchain, security, Internet of Things, quantum computing and DevOps.

“We have designed our cloud platform to serve as the best possible engine for cognitive apps such as chatbots," said Adam Gunther, Director, IBM Cloud. "This enables companies to harness and fine tune incoming data quickly to create highly tailored user experiences.”

To learn more about Codify Academy, visit http://codifyacademy.com/.

Written by turbotodd

August 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm

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

Alexa, Remind Me To Finish This Blog Post In 10 Minutes

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Amazon Echo owners, Alexa is getting some new skills to help you stay on top of your GTD.

Specifically, Amazon announced Alexa will now be able to recognize commands to set reminders and named timers, reports our friends at Mashable.

To set a reminder, simply explain to Alexa what you need to do and when.

For example, I just said, “Alexa, remind me to finish this blog post in 10 minutes.” Alexa then had to ask me in how long, so much for telling Alexa the reminder in one fell swoop.

I’ll likely be finished with this blog post in less than 10 minutes, so I won’t be able to tell you if it worked or not.

But I did want you Echo/Tap/etc. owners to know this new “skill” was available. Now in the U.S., and rolling out to Germany and the UK in the next several weeks.

Written by turbotodd

June 2, 2017 at 9:39 am

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