Because it’s Friday: “Unsatisfying” by Parallel Motion Design Studio

In the UK we quite like disappointment, there’s something about things not quite working out that we find comforting, even humorous.

The team at Parallel Motion Design Studio created this little video which  animates many of those wonderful unsatisfying occurrences that life throws at us and it made me chuckle.

The team who created it loved the idea so much, they started a challenge and many other people joined in with there own idea of unsatisfying at unsatisfying.tv.

There’s also a set of GIFs available if you prefer.

Have a wonderful Friday:

Via Colossal.

Humans and Robot: Google I/O and Self Driving Bin Lorries

It’s Google’s big developer conference this week – I/O. So far centre stage has been given over to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

There are a set of articles that have been published, some of which I’ve highlighted below but I can summarise all of them with this one quote:

“We are now witnessing a new shift in computing: the move from a mobile-first to an AI-first world.”

Sandar Pichai, CEO, Google

For many the shift to mobile has made little impact on their day-to-day work, it’s had far more impact on their personal life. The switch to AI-first will have a massive impact across both our work and personal lives.

The keynote for I/O was just under 2 hours long, but thankfully The Verge have put together a 10 minute video of the highlights:

Also, Volvo have announced that they are working on a system for self driving refuse collection lorries. This is yet another self-driving initiative, but one with a specific purpose in mind. Instead of trying to resolve the generic problem of self-driving vehicles, in all contexts, this project is seeking to enable self-driving in the urban refuse collection context. Historically targeted innovations like this one are adopted prior to more generic innovations like self-driving cars:


Making AI work for everyone via Google

We are now witnessing a new shift in computing: the move from a mobile-first to an AI-first world. And as before, it is forcing us to reimagine our products for a world that allows a more natural, seamless way of interacting with technology. Think about Google Search: it was built on our ability to understand text in webpages. But now, thanks to advances in deep learning, we’re able to make images, photos and videos useful to people in a way they simply haven’t been before. Your camera can “see”; you can speak to your phone and get answers back—speech and vision are becoming as important to computing as the keyboard or multi-touch screens.


Partnering on machine learning in healthcare via Google

Our researchers at Google have shown over the past year how our machine learning can help clinicians detect breast cancer metastases in lymph nodes and screen for diabetic retinopathy. We’re working with Alphabet’s Verily arm and other biomedical partners to translate these research results into practical medical devices, such as a tool to help prevent blindness in patients with diabetes.

Now we’re ready to do more: machine learning is mature enough to start accurately predicting medical events—such as whether patients will be hospitalized, how long they will stay, and whether their health is deteriorating despite treatment for conditions such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or heart failure.


Why Google’s CEO Is Excited About Automating Artificial Intelligence via MIT Technology

Machine-learning experts are in short supply as companies in many industries rush to take advantage of recent strides in the power of artificial intelligence. Google’s CEO says one solution to the skills shortage is to have machine-learning software take over some of the work of creating machine-learning software.

Humans and Robots: What are you worried about? Machines in the home?

When it comes to risk the things that we rank highest in the machine learning world are physical things, in the UK at least. In a survey commissioned by the Royal Society it’s self driving cars and machines in the home that we give the highest risk to, we don’t think that health diagnosis technologies poses the same level of risk.

I find that intriguing, but not surprising, we are unnerved by the things that are physically close, but not the things that are hidden.

Whilst we are worrying about being physically harmed by self driving cars we don’t worry about predictive policing which could have a much greater impact on our society. This is a common problem, people aren’t very good at recognising the impact of things that are hidden because they are too blinded by the thing they can see. Like the conjurer’s misdirection we are too busy looking one way to see the thing that has just happened directly in-front of us.

Another interesting statement from the survey:

Results from the UK’s first in-depth assessment of public views on machine learning – carried out by the Royal Society and Ipsos MORI – demonstrate that while most people have not heard the term ‘machine learning’ (only 9% have), the vast majority have heard about or used at least one of its applications.

In other words, machine learning is having a significant impact on people’s lives even if they don’t recognise it.

This survey on social risk is published within a few days of an announcement by Durham Police (UK) that they are going to use artificial intelligence to help in the decision on whether, or not, a suspect should be kept in custody. How would you associate the social risk of such a system? I suspect that it depends on your background and how you regard the police.

It’s not really got anything to do with today’s theme, but I was quite intrigued to see that Google is setting it’s AI sights on musical instrumentation with a Neural Synthesizer, or NSynth. I’ve always been fascinated by the intersections of art and technology; pioneering artists have always embraced new technology to enable them to express their art. Music has been at the forefront of that pioneering so it will be interesting to see how musicians use these new technologies.


People are scared of artificial intelligence for all the wrong reasons via Quartz

People in Britain are more scared of the artificial intelligence embedded in household devices and self-driving cars than in systems used for predictive policing or diagnosing diseases. That’s according to a survey commissioned by the Royal Society, which is billed as the first in-depth look at how the public perceives the risks and benefits associated with machine learning, a key AI technique.


Durham Police AI to help with custody decisions via BBC

The system classifies suspects at a low, medium or high risk of offending and has been tested by the force.

It has been trained on five years’ of offending histories data.

One expert said the tool could be useful, but the risk that it could skew decisions should be carefully assessed.


Google’s creating sounds you’ve never heard before via Mashable

To create music, NSynth uses a dataset containing sounds from individual instruments and then blends them to create hybrid sounds. According to the company, NSynth gives “artists with intuitive control over timbre and dynamics and the ability to explore new sounds that would be difficult or impossible to produce with a hand-tuned synthesizer,” the company said in their announcement.

Humans and Robots: Augmented Productivity

For a few million years we’ve been augmenting our productivity with tools. Those tools helped us to catch more meat and to fight our enemies, in other words they made us productive. We continue to augment our productivity with new tools that help us achieve modern day productivity needs. Whilst productivity itself is a simple measure of input, added value and output it’s not always easy to define what the added value is. How people add value is going to be a key question as we transform the meaning of productivity in the coming years as the tools available change dramatically.

There have been a number of items highlighting these new tools over the last few days:

  • The MIT Technology Review is reporting on the impact of augmented reality on healthcare and the Operating Room in particular. The key thing here is that the information is augmenting the operating environment within the context of the operating environment.
  • Improbable has secured a $500m investment to help it continue to develop it’s simulation technologies. As Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality devices become more mainstream there’s the potential for a huge market in creating the simulations that bring those devices to life.
  • Cisco, Google and Microsoft have all made announcements aimed at augmenting today’s office productivity environment with various uses of AI.
  • And someone decided to make a robot that looks and moves like a spider (but only 6 legs so no needs to worry) 🙂

AR Is Making Its Way into the OR via MIT Technology Review

Doctors may soon be able to augment their view of your body, but it will be some time before it’s commonplace.

“Scalpel. Forceps. Suction. Oh, and nurse, pass me the HoloLens.”


If we’re living in a simulation, this UK startup probably built it via Wired

Improbable’s platform, SpatialOS, is designed to let anyone build massive agent-based simulations, running in the cloud: imagine Minecraft with thousands of players in the same space, or researchers creating simulated cities to model the behaviour of millions. Its ultimate goal: to create totally immersive, persistent virtual worlds, and in doing so, change how we make decisions.

Or more simply, as Narula often jokes, “Basically, we want to build the Matrix.”


How machine learning in G Suite makes people more productive via Google Enterprise Blog

According to a Google study in 2015, the average worker spends only about 5 percent of his or her time actually coming up with the next big idea. The rest of our time is caught in the quicksand of formatting, tracking, analysis or other mundane tasks. That’s where machine learning can help.


Transforming Collaboration Through Artificial Intelligence with Cisco’s Acquisition of MindMeld

Artificial Intelligence represents a tremendous opportunity to expand the reach and enhance the capabilities of enterprise technology. At Cisco, we have already been introducing AI into our solutions across security, orchestration, application performance and collaboration. Today, I’m excited to share Cisco’s intent to acquire MindMeld Inc., a San Francisco-based company that has developed a conversational platform based on natural language understanding (NLU). This acquisition, Cisco’s third in two weeks, represents how the buy pillar of our innovation strategy continues to impact our strategic shift to become more of a software company.


Microsoft’s Presentation Translator translates presentations in real time via TechCrunch

The Presentation Translator can automatically provide real-time translated subtitles or translate the text of their actual PowerPoint presentation while still preserving the original formatting.

In its current iteration, the service supports Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. While the focus here is on translation, you also could use the same service to caption a presentation for audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing.


Man’s homemade robot spider looks real and we are sufficiently freaked out via Mashable

Because it’s Friday: Never Ending Blooms by John Edmark

Do you know what the Golden Ratio is? How about the Golden Angle?

I’ll let you click the links to find out more; or you could watch the following video to see how John Edmark uses these wonderful mathematical phenomena to create remarkable objects and animations:

Via Colossal

Humans and Robots: AI, AI, AI, AI

There have been several Artificial Intelligence (AI) articles over the last couple of days.

A number of these have been commentaries on some research put out by Gartner. The simplified story within the Gartner research is that things that professionals do today will be done by AI at a significantly lower cost at some point in the future. Once that happens those things can be regarded as utilities like electricity. I don’t think that there is any news in this that’s been the general trajectory for some time, the unknown is the speed and nature of that shift. Gartner is going for 2022 by which they are really saying is something like “within around 5 years”.

(One of the things that you need to understand about Gartner is that people listen to them, so when they report something it’s worth taking note even if it’s just to understand where a Gartner reader like CIOs and CTOs may be coming from in the future.)

Interestingly that electricity utility thought is also one of the key points raised by Stowe Boyd in A Q&A with Erica Morphy where he quotes Andrew Ng as saying “AI is the new electricity”.

To further underline that thought both ServiceNow and Grammerly made AI related announcements. ServiceNow are focusing their AI attentions on the automation of work. Grammerly is raising money to help augment our language skills.

Oh, and also, Amazon released another personal assistant based on Alexa, the Echo Show. This time Echo has been given a screen.


Gartner Says Artificial Intelligence Could Turn Some Skilled Practices Into Utilities

“The economics of AI and machine learning will lead to many tasks performed by professionals today becoming low-cost utilities,” said Stephen Prentice, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “AI’s effects on different industries will force the enterprise to adjust its business strategy. Many competitive, high-margin industries will become more like utilities as AI turns complex work into a metered service that the enterprise pays for, like electricity.”


A Q&A with Erica Morphy

“we have to learn to dance with the robots, not to run away from them. But that means we have to develop AI that is dance-withable, and not unrunnable-away-from.”


ServiceNow launches machine learning, AI automation engine

The four main use cases for ServiceNow’s automation efforts include:

  1. Anomaly detection to prevent outages in IT departments. ServiceNow will apply algorithms to find patterns and outliers that can lead to an outage. Anomalies can also be correlated with past events and workflows.
  2. Routing and categorizing of work. Learning algorithms will automatically route work based on past patterns. Tasks such as assessing risk, assigning owners, and categorizing work will be automated.
  3. Performance predictions. The Intelligent Automation Engine can be used to set a performance goal and data profile and get predictive analytics on hitting goals.
  4. Benchmarks vs. peers. ServiceNow is using the automation engine to compare companies to their industries and peers to gauge efficiency and make recommendations.

Grammarly raises $110 million in its first ever funding round

The company’s pitch centers on its machine learning capabilities. It claims this technology can dig into the substance of users’ writing in a way that’s not possible with Microsoft Word or other autocorrect programs.

Grammarly says it can advise not only on proper grammatical structure but on tone and word selection as well.


Amazon’s ‘Echo Show’ Gives Alexa the Touchscreen It Needed

Blessing #206 – Evening Song

A couple of weeks ago Sue and I took a few days off in Northumberland. We’d managed to book a small cottage a short walk away from a beach with a view of the sea. 

The April weather was very kind to us and we enjoyed glorious days and fabulous sunsets, we even got up very early one morning to watch the sunrise over the sea.

One evening I decided to take a walk in the dunes along the beach and to watch the sunset from there. As I powered my way up the loose sand on one of the dunes I noticed a Robin in the top of a thorn bush singing away. It was like it was singing to the sunset telling it how much it appreciated its colourful display. Or perhaps it was telling the other Robins in the area who was boss. I don’t mind why it was singing it beautiful to listen to.

This evening I took a walk alkng a lane which runs through a salt marsh out towards the sea. This lane is only a short distance from quite a large town but it wasn’t long before the noise of the vehicles feeding into and out of the town subsided and the song of hundreds of Skylarks filled the air. I was completely surrounded by their serenading. As I wandered along the Skylarks were joined by a Curlew with its haunting melody. The sun was setting ahead of me and it was lovely.

We are blessed in the UK to have such beautiful choral birds, even if we aren’t that good at stoping and appreciating them.

As I walked back along the lane to my car, the sound of vehicles returned and the evening song subsided out of earshot but not out of my consciousness. The song is still there I just can’t hear it any more, but I can remember it.