Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘AI’ Category

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

IBM Brings Anaconda Open Data Science Platform To IBM Cognitive Systems

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IBM announced today that it is working with Continuum Analytics to offer Anaconda, a leading Open Data Science platform, on IBM Cognitive Systems.   Anaconda will also integrate with the PowerAI software distribution for machine learning and deep learning that makes it simple and fast to take advantage of Power performance and GPU optimization for data intensive cognitive workloads.

As one of the fastest growing fields of machine learning, deep learning makes it possible to process enormous datasets with millions or even billions of elements and extract useful predictive models. Deep learning is transforming the businesses of leading consumer Web and mobile application companies, and it is quickly being adopted by more traditional business enterprises as well.

IBM developed PowerAI to accelerate enterprise adoption of open-source machine and deep learning frameworks used to build cognitive applications.

PowerAI reduces the complexity and risk of deploying these open source frameworks for enterprises on the Power architecture and is tuned for high performance. With PowerAI, clients can realize the benefit of enterprise support on IBM Cognitive Systems HPC platforms used in the most demanding commercial, academic and hyperscale environments.

These Cognitive Systems are built with IBM’s POWER8 leveraging NVIDIA’s high-speed NVLink interface to NVIDIA’s Tesla Pascal P100 GPU accelerators. The CPU to GPU and GPU to GPU NVLink high bandwidth connections give a performance boost to deep learning and analytics applications. The CPU to GPU NVLink interface is only available on POWER8 CPUs.

“Anaconda is an important capability for developers building cognitive solutions, and now it’s available on IBM’s high performance deep learning platform,” said Bob Picciano, senior vice president of Cognitive Systems. “Anaconda on IBM Cognitive Systems empowers developers and data scientists to build and deploy deep learning applications that are ready to scale.”

The Anaconda platform brings powerful capabilities for large-scale data processing, predictive analytics, and scientific computing to simplify package management and deployment. Developers using open source ML/DL components will now be able to use Power as the deployment platform and take advantage of Power optimization & GPU differentiation for NVIDIA. 

Written by turbotodd

April 17, 2017 at 8:56 am

Posted in 2017, AI, anaconda, cognitive, power

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

Apple Expected To Join Partnership On AI

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Apple Inc. is set to join the Partnership on AI, an artificial intelligence research group that includes Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. IBM, and Microsoft Corp., according to Bloomberg.

Despite having initiated somewhat of a lead on the rest of the industry with the introduction of the Siri virtual assistant in 2011, poor Siri seems to have been held back in AI school.

The Partneship on AI is a tech industry body that was established to agree on best practices in the use of artificial intelligence. It was formed in September, with part of its brief to make recommendations in the areas of ethics, fairness, inclusivity, privacy and trustworthiness

Apple’s admission into the group could be announced as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the situation.

9to5 Mac suggests Apple’s reluctance to join may have been prompted by secrecy concerns. In addition to its ethics focus, the group has an emphasis on collaboration between researchers working for different companies.

Siri, fingers crossed…Siri, did you hear me?…SIRI!???!!!!

Written by turbotodd

January 26, 2017 at 8:12 am

Posted in 2017, AI, apple, siri

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