Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘artificial intelligence’ Category

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

Robots Moving East

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The robot wars are headed east.

TechCrunch is reporting that Japanese tech giant Softbank is buying robotics firms Boston Dynamics and Schaft from Alphabet.

Direct from the press release:

Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., said, “Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities. Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution, and Marc and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots. I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family and look forward to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling.”
– via SoftBank Group

The release also explains: “The transaction aligns with SoftBank’s investments in paradigm-shifting technology and its vision of catalyzing the next wave of smart robotics.”

But this likely isn’t just about robots for robotics’ sake. A recent CNBC story explained that Japan’s service sector accounts for 70 percent of its economic output, and yet its labor productivity is 40 percent less than in the U.S.

And Japan’s population is declining faster than any other country:

Economists argue that Japan either needs to accept more immigrants or put robots to work.
– via CNBC

Okay, robots, smoke break’s over, get back to work!

Written by turbotodd

June 9, 2017 at 9:49 am

Apple 2017 WWDC Opening Keynote: What Does It All Mean?

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There was a lot to absorb today in the opening 2+ hour keynote from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, CA.

There are plenty of blog posts that are deconstructing the individual pieces and all the speeds and feeds. As a longtime, but skeptical, Apple fanboy, I thought I’d throw in my two cents…

  • Apple HomePod. Is it a “breakthrough home speaker” or is it Apple’s answer to the home assistant market from which it has been conspicuously absent?  Yes, and yes.  But it’s not about the speaker, nor does it seem to be about Apple’s home assistant. It’s somewhere in between, and with Google Home and Amazon Echoes and Taps flying off the shelves, and introducing new capabilities almost daily, Apple has a LOT of catching up to do here.
  • A new and invigorated Siri…hopefully. — Let’s face it, aside from IBM Watson, Siri was one of the first faces of a common AI. But AI seems to have taken a a few gap years, and certainly hasn’t exactly been studying for the GMAT or LSATs. We did see some new Siri capabilities with iOS 11 today (a more proactive, Google Assistant-like-orientation vis a vis the Apple Watch), a new male voice, and some cool language translation betas. But I, for one, expected to hear more about the newer and smarter Siri.
  • The ARKit Future. Apple’s new augmented reality feature in iOS 11, ARKit, is probably the most exciting “new new” thing we saw on stage today from Apple. The Wingnut AR demo (Peter Jackson’s new AR company) absolutely killed it in terms of future AR direction, and the gaming potential alone could be HUGE. AR is the immediate future of our mobile augmented reality future, and ARKit could be one of the jumpstarters developers need to start to make it (almost) real.
  • Hang on to your MacBook Air. There was lots of advanced chatter about new MacBooks, and that’s just what we got: A new MacBook (it looks like an Air, but doesn’t have the name), new MacBook Pros, a new iMac, and even an iMac Pro. Oh yeah, and a 10.5 inch iPad Pro. Hang on to those vintage 2011-2012 MacBook Airs — you might be able to sell them to desperate MBA loyalists in a few years.
  • Amazon on the Apple TV. Not sure if this is just a strategic hedge against other TV set top players or a me, too, but the really interesting part of this could be the enhanced AI and voice capabilities, especially now that 3rd party developers will be able to write to it.
  • Making new time with the Apple Watch. Okay, I’m a sucker for gimmicks, so the new “Toy Story” character watch faces and animations — all over it. For fitness buffs, the new and improved Activity tracker could help you get rid of that expensive personal trainer, but the headline for the watch for me personally was using Siri’s contextual answers and suggestions (assuming Siri HAS been doing her homework).
  • iPad Multitasking Features. Apple realizes that to jump start iPad sales, it needs to better position the device as a full-on laptop/notebook replacement. To do that, it needs to continually show that the iPad can do more and faster. Today, it introduced several changes that make it easier to multitask, including a new dragging and dropping capability that allows one to move assets between two apps in Split View. Sounds arcane enough, but much needed, even if it was more “me, too” against the Mac OS desktop. Apple also showed off a new File System for iOS and an overhauled App Switcher that should up the ante on the iPod’s potential for taking over as “the” work machine (The new Apple Pencil capabilities, including marking up PDFs, will also help here).

I’ll be keeping an eye out for other reactions, particularly from developers. Apple pointed out the review time for newly-submitted App Store is down to 24 hours, and highlighted the fact that developers have been paid out over $70B U.S. since its launch in 2008, and on pace to deliver $10B+ this year alone. 

Written by turbotodd

June 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

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

A Long AI Weekend

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It’s been a long and winding week, and here in the U.S., we’re about to head into the nice, long, three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

So if you haven’t had enough tech this week, I’m passing along some choice reading recommendations in advance, as I suspect many of you will be leaving the computer or tablet early manana, and hitting the planes, trains, and automobiles.

First up, a Vox story entitled “Artificial intelligence is getting more powerful and it’s about to be everywhere.” That’s because it is. It’s even beating us in our own board games.

Case in point, the story they didn’t want you to watch in China, from The Verge: “AlphaGo beats Ke Jie again to wrap up three-part match.” China’s Jie is the world’s number one Go player and lost his second of a three part match to Google’s AlphaGo. I highly recommend Jie get in touch with former chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov to drown their sorrows in some baijiu and vodka.

After several months of the Trump Administration, I thought it might be good to revisit an unofficial analysis and comparison of President Obamas’ and Trump’s inaugural addresses. Entitled, “IBM Watson Compares Trump’s Inauguration Speech to Obama’s.”

If you can’t bear the thought of the machines taking over mankind, perhaps it’s time to return a different kind of manhood, in a new biography of the eminently masculine writer, Ernest Hemingway. There’s a new biography out, entitled simply, Ernest Hemingway: A Biography. I was an American lit major, so I’ll be putting this new bio on the list. If AI were a contemporary of Papa Hemingway, I’m sure he would have run with the bots and the bulls.

And another new non-fiction book that I just started reading, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. The first few chapters are filled with choice tidbits and insights about what appears to have been an epic leadership failure by the candidate herself. But I’ll reserve full judgment until I’ve finished the book, and also after I’ve handed it off to IBM’s Watson for its own summary judgment.

The machines, after all, are our new best friends….aren’t they?

For those of you in the U.S., enjoy your holiday weekend and don’t forget Monday’s true meaning: Remembering the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the service of our country.

Written by turbotodd

May 25, 2017 at 10:19 am

The Easy System

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The Staples’ “Easy button” is getting an upgrade with IBM Watson.

In a piece by The Wall Street Journal’s Sara Castellanos, she outlines how Staples and IBM are partnering to make Staples’ iconic red “easy” button act as “an artificially-intelligent assistant for all office business needs.”

Castellanos writes that the company will later this month launch a pilot program where office assistants at 100 medium and large undisclosed businesses will test the AI-powered Easy System to order office supplies by voice and text.

The Easy System, which includes the physical easy button as well as a mobile app, email and text message capability, has been in development since last year. It’s powered by International Business Machine Corp.’s Watson artificial intelligence system. The cognitive computing scheme behind Watson lets Staples’ algorithms learn the habits of individual customers.
– via WSJ

Staples uses APIS to connect its inventory and ordering systems to Watson via IBM Cloud technology, explains Castellanos.

Staple’s CTO, Faisal Masud, on the new system:

“Our goal would be to make their lives more efficient and be able to serve them beyond just office supplies,” said Mr. Masud, who became the company’s CTO in December 2016 in a promotion that combined e-commerce with his previous chief information officer responsibilities. “We want to be able to solve any request that our customers have.”
– via WSJ

Written by turbotodd

May 9, 2017 at 10:44 am

Mark III Systems Launches Cognitive Call Center With Watson

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If you’re trying to keep up with all the AI and machine learning companies sprouting up on the landscape…yeah, well, you might need an algorithm to help you with that.

The next best thing might be Bloomberg Beta’s Shivon Zilis, who provides a very thorough rundown on “Machine Intelligence 3.0” here. There’s way too much AI meat on ‘dem bones for me to go into the details here, but Zilis summarizes it by explaining that “a one stop shop of the machine intelligence stack is coming into view.”

On the IBM AI front, IBM today announced that Texas-based IT solutions provider and IBM Business Partner Mark III Systems has built a platform using cognitive technologies on IBM Cloud to help call centers increase efficiency, improve employee productivity and make more informed decisions based on near real-time insights.

Most call centers record phone conversations as unstructured data, only searchable by manually entered “tags.” If a conversation is relevant to an audit, it must be transcribed manually, which means reports can take weeks, which can result in decreased productivity and potentially decreased customer satisfaction.

Mark III Systems’ Cognitive Call Center platform transforms the traditional call center model by using IBM Cloud and Watson to help agents identify, filter, analyze and take actions on inbound and outbound calls.

The platform uses IBM Cloud Object Storage to manage the unstructured data, and it uses Watson APIs, specifically Watson Speech to Text and Watson Tone Analyzer, to automate the transcription and tagging of audio, provide near real-time analytics and actions and enable deeper analytics for audit situations.

Mark III’s development unit, BlueChasm, leveraged virtually the entire IBM development to deployment stack to create the cloud-based platform with an open API. With its highly repeatable, flexible solution, Mark III is set to revolutionize the call center market by providing cognitive business insights in near real time to its clients.

IBM has also launched the Watson Build, a new challenge designed to support its channel partners as they bring a cognitive solution to market. The deadline to apply is May 15, 2017, and businesses can learn more here.

Written by turbotodd

May 2, 2017 at 9:13 am

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