Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘artificial intelligence’ Category

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

IBM Brings Cognitive Manufacturing To The Factory Floor

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IBM has made sizable investments in the Internet of Things (IoT) space over the past several years.

Last October, the company announced it would be spending $3B U.S. to bring Watson cognitive computing to IoT, and allocated more than $200M U.S. to its global Watson IoT headquarters in Munich.

When that announcement was made, IBM had 6,000 clients globally tapping Watson IoT solutions and services, and the momentum continues with its announcement earlier today that the company was launching a new IBM Watson IoT solution, Cognitive Visual Inspection.

Announced at Hannover Messe 2017, Cognitive Visual Inspection will provide manufacturers with a ‘cognitive assistant’ on the factory floor to minimize costly defects and increase product quality.

In fact, based on early testing of a production cycle that typically takes 8 days with ½ day required for needed visual inspection, the new IBM solution reduced inspection time by 80 percent and cut manufacturing defects by 7-10 percent.

Using an ultra-high definition (UHD) camera and cognitive capabilities from IBM Watson, the solution captures images of products as they move through production and assembly, and together with human inspectors, can detect defects in products, including scratches or pinhole-size punctures.

The solution, which continuously learns based on human assessment of the defect classifications in the images, is designed to help manufacturers improve for product excellence, achieve never seen before specialization levels, and deliver on the promise of Industry 4.0.

According to Business Insider Intelligence, the installed base of manufacturing IoT devices is expected to swell 3 times — from 237 million in 2015 to 923 million in 2020. By that year, manufacturers will spend approximately $267 billion on the IoT. 

Manufacturing of these devices require the highest level of inspection for quality during every stage of production.  Over half of these quality checks involve visual confirmation, which helps ensure that all parts are in the correct location, have the right shape or color or texture, and are free from scratches, holes or foreign particles.

Automating these visual quality checks is difficult due to volume and variety of products, as well as the fact that defects can be any size –from a tiny puncture to a cracked windshield on a vehicle.

The new solution helps inspectors accelerate the sometimes tedious and expertise-based visual inspection process to quickly identify and classify defects in the manufacturing process – helping to increase production yield.

Written by turbotodd

April 25, 2017 at 10:54 am

Watson Parle Français à Credit Mutual Banque

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Crédit Mutuel and IBM announced today that following a successful pilot, the use of Watson technologies is extended to 20,000 employees across 5,000 branches to continue to strengthen customer relationships.

This marks the first commercial use of Watson by a financial institution in France to assist its professionals.

The bank’s customer advisors have been using Watson services in French for the past year, integrated in their business applications, as Crédit Mutuel and IBM have partnered to train and improve Watson’s French language capabilities.

By mid-June, Watson-based solutions will be deployed to client advisors across the 15 federations of Crédit Mutuel throughout France:  

  • The Email Analyzer will help the advisors of these branches to manage the more than 350,000 customer e-mails they receive each day. The solution allows the Bank to identify the most frequent requests, determine the level of request urgency and help its client advisors execute faster or delegate associated tasks, allowing them to accelerate and enhance responses provided to their customers.
  • Two Virtual Assistant applications will use Watson technology to help the advisors rapidly provide customers with information on a comprehensive set of offerings, starting with complex domains such as car and housing insurances, and the whole range of savings and investments products.

After one year of intensive training with the business experts of the bank, and after a successful pilot with 150 client advisors in 20 branches, both solutions were strongly endorsed by the pilot’s users.

Working with Watson-based solutions trained with internal business knowledge has helped them free up time; improve the speed, relevance and accuracy of responses to queries; and ultimately reinforce relationships with their customers, providing more personalized attention.

According to an internal survey of participants, 94 percent of the respondents would recommend the Virtual Assistant to colleagues and 87 percent would recommend the Email Analyzer.

The pilot also demonstrated that client advisors were able to find the right answers to most of their customer questions more than 60 percent faster using the Watson-based Virtual Assistant.

“As a mutual bank with a strong local presence all over the country, we continue to invest in our branches to help advisors deliver more personal relationships with our clients, whether face to face, by phone, or digital. In this context, Watson is a perfect working partner to assist our professionals, augment their service quality and help them bring more value to clients,” said Nicolas Thery, chairman at Crédit Mutuel. “We are evolving our banking business to deliver a growing number of diversified and valuable services to clients, and we recognize how important it is for our professionals to be central to our client relationships.”

Crédit Mutuel will extend the use of Watson technologies to additional use cases later this year, for health, personal risk insurance, car credit insurance, and bank credit services.

Written by turbotodd

April 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Tribeca Film Festival And IBM Launch “Storytellers with Watson” Competition

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Human and machine collaboration has inspired some of society’s most important innovations, and it has long been a source of fascination in media and entertainment.

But it’s no longer just the subject of movie or videogame story lines; it’s also helping to inspire their very creation. Today the Tribeca Film Festival and IBM announced “Tribeca Presents Storytellers with Watson: A Tribeca Film Festival competition for Innovation sponsored by IBM.” The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, will be taking place from April 19-30 in New York City.

Starting today, participants in the U.S. can submit ideas on how they would apply Watson to any storytelling medium, such as film and video, web content, gaming, augmented reality and virtual reality.

IBM has worked with Tribeca to develop five use-case categories that can help guide the ideation process for submissions, including examples of cognitive solutions and how Watson APIs can be applied to their creation. Guiding categories include development, pre-production, production and post-production, audience experience and interaction, and marketing and distribution.

The aim is to encourage new thinking on the challenges that exist in creativity or productivity and how Watson can be applied to improving this experience.

The competition is open to the public and will also tap into Tribeca’s alumni network of thousands of media industry influencers, digital producers and creative firms to utilize the Watson platform to create original stories.

Over the past 16 years since the Tribeca Film Festival’s inception, this alumni community has submitted entries to the Festival and are actively involved in creating films, TV programming, online content and other forms of interactive digital media.

“The Tribeca Film Festival has always been a celebration of innovation and cutting-edge ideas,” said Andrew Essex, CEO at Tribeca Film Festival. “Since IBM Watson has been a big influence across many industries, we’re eager to see how our creative community will apply this technology to inspiring their own creative potential. Our collaboration with IBM is important to our mission because it spurs our community to push the limits of what they think is possible and find new inspiration that can redefine their approaches to art and storytelling.”

Watson helps professionals across industries discover new insights from massive amounts of data to solve problems and inspire creativity. The same cognitive technology that is being used to inspire new ideas and thinking among the Tribeca Film Festival community is also being applied in fields such as healthcare, education, retail, law, insurance, and more.

Within the media and entertainment industries, Watson is already helping professionals design and innovate, such as in fashion (with Marchesato create the “cognitive dress”), film (with 20th Century FOX to create the movie trailer for “Morgan”), cuisine (with Chef Watson to create new culinary combinations), music (via Watson Beat and Grammy award-winning producer Alex Da Kid), and architecture (with SOFTlab to create a sculpture inspired by Antoni Gaudi and the history of Barcelona).

The Storytellers with Watson competition submissions will be accepted through May 18, 2017. Ideas can be submitted via the contest’s online form and should include general information about the idea and a short video.

A group of IBM volunteers along with representatives from the Tribeca Film Festival will review the submissions and rate them for creativity, impact potential, and technical feasibility. Submissions will be narrowed down to five finalists who will compete for the winning position. The winner will receive a trip for two to the 2018 Tribeca Film Fest which includes airfare for two within the U.S, a hotel room, and two passes to the Festival.

For more details on the competition and submission process, please visit the “Storytelling with Watson” landing page.

Written by turbotodd

April 20, 2017 at 8:53 am

Another Spanish Green Jacket

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If you’re a golf fan of any degree, and you watched the finish of the 2017 Masters in Augusta, Georgia yesterday, you know that once again it was a special Sunday finish for longtime Spanish pro golfer, Sergio Garcia.

Up to yesterday, Garcia had started in 73 major championship tournaments stretching back to 1999, and had never crossed the finish line first.

That all changed in a one-hole sudden death playoff after he, and English golfer and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, walked the 18th hole for the second time in a day. With Rose’s drive off to the far right side of the 18th fairway and into the pine straw, the green nearly hidden from view, Sergio had his opportunity to strike.

And boy did he, planting his approach inside ten feet of the flag, and eagerly awaiting Rose’s bogey finish before Garcia sank his birdie putt to put an exclamation point on his strong finish.

That it all happened on what would have been the 60th birthday of now deceased Spanish golfer and two-time Masters winner, and Garcia’s idol, Seve Ballasteros …well, it writes itself.

I had occasion to visit Augusta National and the Masters for the first time last week, and as a longtime fan and player of the game of golf, I will only say nothing can prepare you for the real thing.

I’ve watched the tournament on TV and virtually for the better part of 20 years — ever since IBM first started building the Masters Website — and the undulations and diverse topography of the course are something that can only be fully grokked in person. It is, in a word, simply majestic.

And par for the course, IBM continues to partner with Augusta National in order to bring the best of this world-class competition to fans around the world.

This year, we brought Watson along for a tee time — you can read more about Watson’s work behind the scenes here.

In the meantime, congratulations to Sergio, and Viva Espagna!

Another fantastic Masters is in the bag.

Written by turbotodd

April 10, 2017 at 9:04 am

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