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Tag: data

Amazon man orders 20,000 Mercedes vans

Thursday, 20 September, 2018

The EU’s top antitrust regulator, Margrethe Vestager, has launched an investigation into whether Amazon is unfairly monopolizing data to outsell its rivals. There’s a growing chorus of voices on both sides of the Atlantic now questioning whether the company’s ocean of data gives it an intrinsic advantage. The problem, of course, is that there’s data and data and it depends on what exactly the definition embraces. Amazon relies more and more on “behavioral data,” which reveals who precisely is interested in what product, and this is priceless information. Margrethe Vestager will have quite a job to pry that from the calculating hands of Jeff Bezos.

Meanwhile, the same Jeff Bezos has just has ordered 20,000 Mercedes Sprinter vans for Amazon’s US Delivery Service Partner program, which enables small businesses to lease
vans for deliveries through third-party fleet management companies. Amazon also offers them fuel, insurance, uniforms and access to its delivery technology. Fedex and UPS, which each have around 60,000 delivery vehicles, will be keeping a close eye on this one while hoping Margrethe Vestager can slow or stall Bezos’ hyperdrive.


Do You Trust This Computer?

Monday, 9 April, 2018 0 Comments

Courtesy of Elon Musk, new documentary about AI titled Do You Trust This Computer? was streamed for free over the weekend. The film explores the role of artificial intelligence in all aspects of modern society, and features commentary from educator Jerry Kaplan, scientist Rana el Kaliouby, entrepreneur Andrew Ng, investor Shivon Zilis, roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro and screenwriter Jonathan Nolan.

“Director Chris Paine and his team have done an amazing job with this movie. It’s a very important subject that will affect our lives in ways we can’t even imagine — some scary, some good,” said Musk in an announcement. The founder of Tesla and SpaceX is known for his dark outlook on artificial intelligence and he warns that tyrants of the past were hindered by the fact they were human, a limitation not shared by supercomputers. “You would have an immortal dictator from which we can never escape,” he says in the documentary. Musk says that we need to assimilate machine learning before we are overtaken by it.

Trivia: At 1:02:00, Alexander Nix, then CEO of Cambridge Analytica, makes an appearance saying that US voters need “a persuasion message… and it needs to be nuanced.” The candidate he was selling? Ted Cruz.


Enter the data labelling professional

Thursday, 16 November, 2017 0 Comments

You hear the words “artificial intelligence” and what do you think of? Dystopia vs. Utopia. Stephen Hawking warning us to leave Earth and Elon Musk sounding the alarm about a Third World War. On the other hand, we have Bill Gates saying there’s no need to panic about machine learning and Mark Zuckerberg urging us to cool the fear-mongering. AI and apprehension and confusion go hand-in-hand today. The fear of a future unknown is combined a present dread that AI will take our jobs away, but every disruptive technology has seen the replacement of human workers. At the same time, we’ve been ingenious enough to develop new jobs and AI could be every bit as much a job generator as a job destroyer.

A recent report by Gartner predicts that while AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs in the US, it will create 2.3 million jobs. The question is: Which kind of jobs will these be? Data scientists, with qualifications in mathematics and computer science, will be eagerly sought and highly paid, but what about the masses? Three words: Data Labelling Professional.

Imagine you want to get a machine to recognize expensive watches, and you have millions of images, some of which have expensive watches, some of which have cheap watches. You might need someone to train the machine to recognize images with expensive watches and ignore images without them. In other words, data labelling will be the curation of data, where people will take raw data, tidy it up and organize it for machines to process. In this way, data labelling could become an entry-level job or even a blue-collar job in the AI era. When data collection becomes pervasive in every industry, the market for data labelling professionals will boom. Take that, Stephen Hawking.

watches


You should not believe that the night sky is BLU

Sunday, 4 December, 2016 0 Comments

In June last year, the South Florida Business Journal noted that Samuel Ohev-Zion, CEO of “rapidly growing mobile firm” BLU Products, had paid $11 million for a mansion in Golden Beach, just north of Miami Beach. Because it’s one of the few places in Miami-Dade County where people can buy mansions directly on the ocean, Golden Beach is appropriately named. The seller was Sergey A. Solonin, and he was described as CEO and president of Cyprus-based Qiwi Plc, an international online payments firm, and chairman of the Investment Banking Group Russian Investment Club.

BLU Clearly there’s a lot of money in the “rapidly growing mobile” business, especially if one makes budget Android phones as Samuel Ohev-Zion does.

But “budget” isn’t always inexpensive or a synonym for integrity. Fast forward to now and Blu says it’s replacing the Chinese software that stole user data with Google-approved software. The scandal, which was unveiled two weeks ago by security firm Kryptowire, involved a firmware-updating app that monitored user communications and sent back text messages to a keyword-searchable archive on a Chinese server. Shanghai Adups Technology Co., Ltd, the Chinese app maker, claims its data collection tool was not designed for US phones, and that the data has since been deleted. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Reportedly, a seemingly contrite Sammy Ohev-Zion, now says BLU will “not install third-party applications where we don’t have the source code and don’t understand the behavior.” And if you believe that, you’ll believe everything.


Matt Oczkowski is the Trump data king

Saturday, 12 November, 2016 2 Comments

From Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight to The New York Times’ The Upshot to the Clinton campaign’s own numbers crunchers, it seemed a formality that Hillary would win the White House. Why, even last Friday, her campaign manager Robby Mook was rejoicing in the so-called “Clinton coalition” of early voters he believed were leading her campaign to victory. Matt Oczkowski saw a different picture.

Note the name: Matt Oczkowski. He wad the “Director of Product” for president-elect Donald Trump’s data team, and he’s the man wot won it, in many ways. While the triumphant pollsters and pundit were unable and unwilling to comprehend anything but a Clinton win, Oczkowski kept modelling and his data suggested a different outcome. During the final 10 days of the campaign, he detected subtle changes in his polling. Then, when early voting stats started coming in, his team saw a decrease in black turnout, an increase in Hispanic turnout and an increase in turnout among those over 55. Oczkowski reworked his models and saw Trump’s path to power take shape. In the Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin, the rural vote told the story. “The amount of disenfranchised voters who came out to vote in rural America has been significant,” Oczkowski told CBS. The rest is history.


How Rembrandt is this?

Monday, 11 April, 2016 0 Comments

Combine the resources of ING Group, Microsoft, the Rembrandthuis, the Mauritshuis and the Delft University of Technology and you get, well, lots of things, but in this particular case the result is The Next Rembrandt.

“We examined the entire collection of Rembrandt’s work, studying the contents of his paintings pixel by pixel. To get this data, we analyzed a broad range of materials like high resolution 3D scans and digital files, which were upscaled by deep learning algorithms to maximize resolution and quality. This extensive database was then used as the foundation for creating The Next Rembrandt.”

Ron Augustus, Microsoft Services Directeur Nederland

Doubters will, no doubt, say that Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn could paint thousands of variations of his subjects and that the program which “painted” The Next Rembrandt is limited in its creative ability. True, but IBM’s Watson and Google’s AlphaGO were greeted with scepticism, initially. Data is not to be laughed at anymore, and it can be, in the case of The Next Rembrandt, rather beautiful.

The Next Rembrandt


Boogio days and nights while running on sensors

Wednesday, 23 March, 2016 0 Comments

Wearables. What does the word conjure up? For a start, activity trackers that monitor our exercise and sleep and generate vast amounts of data as we move towards the quantified self. “The fitness tracker on your wrist may be the most evident sign of the Internet of Things,” wrote Thomas H. Davenport and John Lucker for the Deloitte Review Issue 16.

That report is dated 26 January 2015, which isn’t that long ago, but a year is a long time in the wearable world. Consider the following Davenport-Lucker sentence: “It’s not surprising that health activity tracking isn’t highly useful for serious health applications yet, because the first devices became available in 2006 (in the Nike+-shoe-based sensor).” A lot can change in a year. On Monday, Apple introduced its most ambitious health product yet, an open-source app development platform called CareKit, that will help people keep track of their medical treatment. And as regards that Nike+-shoe-based sensor, Boogio intends to give it a run for its money, so to speak.

Boogio is a pair of inserts for your running shoes that contain sensors. These provide real-time feedback on such biomechanics as foot strike zone, centre of balance, ground contact speed and gait symmetry, and communicate with Android, iOS and Windows apps over Bluetooth LE. Who needs smart shoes? Well, all the data from those sensors could be very useful for runner training, physical therapy and paediatric rehabilitation. Human quantification at this level will have a dramatic impact on how athletic performance is perfected and on how medicine is practiced. Soon, we’ll all be running on data, wrists and feet combined.


IBM brings Watson to Munich

Tuesday, 15 December, 2015 0 Comments

It would be an exaggeration to say that Germany has bet the farm on the Industry 4.0 concept, but the country certainly is investing a huge amount of credibility along with significant sums of money in its variant of the Internet of Things (IoT). That willingness to take manufacturing into the cloud and beyond got a big vote of confidence today when IBM opened its Watson IoT global headquarters in Munich. The city will also host IBM’s first European Watson innovation centre.

The declared goal is to add the power of cognitive computing to the billions of connected devices, sensors and systems that make up the IoT. The campus environment at the Highlight Towers on Mies-van-der-Rohe-Straße will bring together a thousand IBM developers, consultants, researchers and designers and will also serve as an innovation lab for data scientists, engineers and programmers “building new connected solutions at the intersection of cognitive computing and the IoT,” according to the IBM press release.

Along with the facility in Munich, IBM announced today that it is opening Watson IoT Client Experience Centres across Asia and the Americas. Locations include Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas. These will provide clients and partners access to technology, tools and talent needed to develop and create new products and services using the cognitive intelligence delivered via the Watson IoT Cloud Platform.

As Thomas J. Watson Jr. once said: “Wisdom is the power to put our time and our knowledge to the proper use.”

Watson


There’s gold in them there Alps of apps

Friday, 27 September, 2013 0 Comments

“Mountain, Society, Technology” is the theme of this year’s Innovation Festival in Bolzano-Bozen. The South Tyrol region has prospered mightily from its combination of tourism, agriculture, industry and services but as Jeff Bezos once remarked, “If your customer base ages with you, you’re Woolworths,” and the danger is that a place which is profiting from affluent German, Italian and Austrian pensioners in search of hiking, skiing and dining holidays may miss out on the information revolution, with all its apps and its opportunities.

This morning’s discussion, then, “Open Data — Digital gold” is designed to get regional innovators and planners thinking about how digital access to public databases can improve daily life for the citizenry. The panelists include Ulrich Atz, Mark Madsen, Ivan Moroder, Brunella Franchini, Alex Meister and Sandy Kirchlechner. According to the organizers, “Even the layperson will realise that Open Data could turn out to be a digital gold mine.” Time to stock up on shovels, eh?

Innovation Festival


Datafication

Wednesday, 24 April, 2013 0 Comments

In the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, Kenneth Neil Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger look at how big data is changing the way we think about the world. They coin the term “datafication” to describe the transformation of things into a numerically quantified format, which is key to the production of big data. Snippet:

“Datafication is not the same as digitization, which takes analog content — books, films, photographs — and converts it into digital information, a sequence of ones and zeros that computers can read. Datafication is a far broader activity: taking all aspects of life and turning them into data. Google’s augmented-reality glasses datafy the gaze. Twitter datafies stray thoughts. LinkedIn datafies professional networks.

Once we datafy things, we can transform their purpose and turn the information into new forms of value. For example, IBM was granted a U.S. patent in 2012 for ‘securing premises using surface-based computing technology’ — a technical way of describing a touch-sensitive floor covering, somewhat like a giant smartphone screen. Datafying the floor can open up all kinds of possibilities. The floor could be able to identify the objects on it, so that it might know to turn on lights in a room or open doors when a person entered. Moreover, it might identify individuals by their weight or by the way they stand and walk. It could tell if someone fell and did not get back up, an important feature for the elderly. Retailers could track the flow of customers through their stores.”

For a less-rosy view of all this, check out what Nassim N. Taleb has to say in Beware the Big Errors of Big Data. Bottom line: “I am not saying here that there is no information in big data. There is plenty of information. The problem — the central issue — is that the needle comes in an increasingly larger haystack.”