Digital Divide – Part One

Date March 31, 2018

This post ran over 4,000 words so I thought I should break it up. The second part will be posted shortly after the first.

In this post:

> Veterans Interest (at the end)

> Email of the future

> Digital Transformation of  Business

> What Do You Mean by AI

 

Remember the rumors of the last year or so “Email is Dead”? Not so fast! Google has announced AMP for Gmail. Accelerated Mobile Pages will be available through the Gmail Developer Preview.  Theoretically, “this new spec will be a powerful way for developers to create more engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.” (Google sell sheet). Vijith Assar in Select/All lands with both feet on the announcement. He says it is not needed and if effect, will slow Gmail down. He is not impressed on several fronts. I will leave to all of you to sort out. I am sticking with plain old Gmail that I have used since the dawn of time.

Does it Pay for Business to Spend on the New Technology?

Tim Berners-Lee said (recognize the name? He is the inventor of the World Wide Web) “The future is so much bigger than the past.”

The economies of the world are undergoing deep, deep transformation. Digital technology is changing everything from strategies to processes to marketing. The changes are profound and everlasting. Nothing will be the same. Indeed 47% of jobs in the US will be lost. In the UK the loss will be around 35%. The projection for Japan is up to 50% by 2035.

A point to remember is that jobs will be created. A factor not discussed my in the US is that 48% of people in the US think Universal Basic Income is a good idea! 

Finland has put a pilot project into action and Canada and France are working out the details

But that is off-topic for this post. However, as regular readers are aware I strongly encourage people to get more education. What concerns me is the 70% of workers realize that jobs will be affected just not their jobs. Why? Only 30% of people are improving their education to prepare themselves for the coming onslaught.

In my last post on The Singularity and Quantum Computing, I said changes are going to be astronomical especially when quantum computing begins to be used.

Machine Learning will lead the way

In this post, we will examine how machine learning will lead the way until the day comes when quantum computers are available.

A co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore forecast in 1995 that computing power would double every ten years and cost would decrease at the rate and pace.

We have come to the end of that road. The big question of this post concerns what has occurred in those companies that have aggressively transformed themselves using technology and those that are not so aggressive.

A paper by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani of the Harvard Business School explores what more than a decade of research shows regarding the movers and those that are still thinking about moving to new technologies.

Their empirical observations show what a major opportunity awaits those companies investing in digitizing their business models.

The division of movers and not movers becomes a look at the ‘digital leaders’ and the ‘digital laggards’. Companies, specifically Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are using their expertise in cloud computing and machine learning to develop applications for their platforms so any business can use applications on their platforms to take advantage of the newest tech and transform themselves from laggards to leaders.

Again I got ahead of myself. Drs. Iansiti and Lakhani and associates at the Harvard Business School found the difference in average gross margin for 25% of companies that came to be labeled leaders and laggards.

The three-year-average gross margin for digital laggards was 37% and for digital leaders was 55%! Need I continue?

OK. The three-year-average earnings before taxes were 11% for the laggards and 16% for the leaders. Finally, to really whet your whistle the three-year-average of Net Income was 7% compared to 11%!

Their studies also showed that the digital advantage was not simply in spending more money, “the best-performing companies stated they have technology budgets ON PAR with the digital laggards. So there is more going on than what shows in the first batch of numbers. The same 25% of laggards spent 3.2% of their revenue on IT while the leaders spent 3.5%.

In digital companies, digital leaders approached the digital opportunity with a different mindset. Perhaps the way these companies executed in their operations would have given them a similar advantage even if they hadn’t seized the digital opportunity? I don’t know. But it would not appear to be so.

The main difference which may speak to my question is the digital leaders have consistent up-to-date metrics for decision making and can make the best use of the data they collect.

Managers make decisions. What is changing, dramatically, is the best managers are taking advantage of the new technologies to plan and execute faster and more efficiently.

Personal Stories

Many, many years ago I was given the task of installing, training and supporting computerized cash registers in the restaurants I supervised. The question asked by upper management, “Is it worth it?” My answer was the computers would make the good managers better and that the not as good managers would waste the opportunity. Forty years later the same question is being asked.

More Discussion

Another issue is the new products that are coming to market. The new products themselves are taking advantage of the new technologies in ways the laggards will never be able to capture.

I recently read an article that said the newest equipment entering field service today have built-in sensors to report on the performance of the device, any health issue that may be occurring, and what/when preventative maintenance tasks need to be performed. Manager’s time can now be spent planning and executing strategies rather than tracking what machine is due for its next checkup. That sounds more profitable.

Data now being collected aids not only the user of the device but the manufacturer as well.

How to better meet customer’s needs, last longer, run more efficiently to save even more resources. All these are happening NOW!

Companies that are laggards are probably going to be laggards forever, at least until they succumb to the early death of laggards. Not getting with the ‘program’ soon enough.

I remember a project. It seemed like it took years to finish. I had to develop a Bill of Materials for a company I worked for. That was progressive back then but now that company is still mired in old inventory and old sales methods. The progressive attempt at achieving real cost knowledge and cost savings (profits) which would have accrued.

I see that happening so often as I visit businesses that I have supported for years. I do not know what is keeping them from modernizing but surely their days of existence are numbered and death is approaching ever faster.

These companies have great people working for them. I wonder if the employees know the disservice the owners and managers are doing to their careers.

Example of Digital Transformation and a Swift Kick

An example of digital transformation is that Amazon’s website changes every three seconds!

If you are a business owner or if you know one that can benefit from a swift kick to get motivated, please read this Harvard Business Study.

You will be richly rewarded if you heed the opportunities it presents. It is well researched, well written and presents solid opportunities for getting on with the digital lifestyle.

The Same Old Communication Problem – Apples to Oranges

Does AI mean the Same as AI?

“In 2017, artificial intelligence attracted $12 billion of Venture Capital investment. We are only beginning to discover the usefulness of AI applications.” by David Pring-Mill 3/15/2018

David Pring-Mill quotes Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, a Taiwanese venture capitalist and the founding president of Google China “it’s tempting for every entrepreneur to package his company as an AI company, and it’s tempting for every VC to say “I’m an AI investor”.

But Dr. Lee concludes that 2018 will be the year where many of the fakers will be exposed.

David Pring-Mill found an expert in the field of natural language processing, Erik Cambria, who said: “Nobody is doing AI today and everybody is saying that they do AI because it’s a cool and sexy buzzword.”

Mr. Cambria said that much of ‘AI’ is just emulation of human intelligence. “And there is nothing today that is even barely as intelligent as the most stupid human being on Earth!” “No one is doing AI yet, for the simple fact that we don’t know how the human brain works.”

Mr. Cambria continues “Companies are just looking at tricks to create a behavior that looks like intelligence but that is not real intelligence, it’s just a mirror of intelligence.”

I think respectable companies look at scientific integrity regarding the issue of accurate definitions and it is not a matter to be taken lightly. I am afraid though that hype is currently the currency of choice regarding Artificial Intelligence.

The lions of this Fourth Industrial Revolution: Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Vernon Vinge, Ray Kurzweil, Ben Goertzel, Paul Allen, Hartmut Neven, Larry Page disagree among themselves as to what constitutes AI; where will AI lead us; will AI be benevolent or malicious?

So many people of hyper vision, of massive intelligence, of uncommon bravery to speak their minds openly to generate the questions and answers that are essential to the proper growth of AI is exciting to see.

Richard Feynman, during a commencement address at Cal Tech in 1974, said: “The first Principle (of AI) is that you must not fool yourself-and you are the easiest person to fool”. Later he added, “You should not fool the layman when you are talking as a scientist. Scientists should bend over backward to show how they could be wrong.”

I recommend the booklet I listed below. It is an extremely thorough look at the world using the lens of Artificial Intelligence. So many graphs, so many groups of topics just so many of everything in an easy to read and understand format.

Bot.Me: A Revolutionary Partnership, PwC Consumer Series, April 2017

I hijacked the following text from the PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) booklet

“AI, shorthand for artificial intelligence, defines technologies emerging today that can understand, learn, and then act based on the information. Forms of AI in use today include digital assistants, chatbots, and machine learning.

Today, AI works in three ways:

Assisted intelligence, widely available today, improves what people and organziations are already doing. A simple example, prevalent in cars today, is the GPS navigation program that offers direction to drivers and adjusts to road conditions.

Augmented intelligence, emerging today, enables people and organizations to do things they couldn’t otherwise do. For example, the combination of programs that organize cars ride-sharing services enables businesses that could otherwise not exist.

Autonomous intelligence, being developed for the future, establishes machines that act on their own. An example of this will be self-driving vehicles when they come into widespread use.

With a market projected to reach $70 billion by 2020, AI is poised to have a transformative effect on consumer, enterprise, and government markets and around the world.

There are certainly obstacles to overcome, but consumers believe AI has the potential to assist in medical breakthroughs, democratize costly services, elevate poor customer service, and even free up an overburdened workforce.

“Some tech optimists believe AI could create a world where human abilities are amplified as machines help mankind process, analyze, and evaluate the abundance of data that is created in today’s world, allowing humans the spend more time engaged in high-level thinking, creativity, and decision-making.”

I also recommend the article: “Everyone is talking About AI But do they mean the same thing?” by David Pring-Lee.

Mr. Pring-Lee introduces so many topics and attributes so many statements you will find it easier to read the article and take your own notes rather than relying on my version of “Cliff Notes”.

SPECIAL NOTE:

Today’s Blue Moon is the last until 2020. It is also known as the Paschal Moon- for Easter!

Veterans Interests

Veterans Crisis Line: 800.273.8255 Press 1.

I am maintaining my promise to provide information to veterans regarding information I would have covered in my blog “Lodestarandyou.com” before I melded it into dabblerduckbutts.com.

This section today is not specifically about health but it is about veterans and how their story is told.

Paul Szoldra is a US Marine. He describes the history (short and personal) of US Military blogs and how they gained recognition as real spaces for the military member could tell his or her story. “At War” as it came of age in Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, as told by C.J.Chivers, a Marine Corps veteran, and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times. He tells of Teresa Fazio who offered a deeply personal account of a “mortuary affair in Iraq” and Thomas Gibbons-Neff who is now a Pentagon correspondent for The Times. Other writers got their start at Task & Purpose, War on the Rocks and Strategy Bridge.

These stories, written by combat veterans bring a level of credibility that other journalists don’t have.

The Times has relaunched its “renegade” ‘At War’ blog in March 2018. Its new editor Lauren Katzenberg “hopes that At War will inspire more people to share their voices and stories at a time when there is less transparency around wars being carried out in American’s name”. Paul Szoldra March 2018.

A Soldier in the dessert of Iraq or Afghanistan. Almay Stock Photo Google Images
A Soldier in the desert of Iraq or Afghanistan.

 

 

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Choices or Not? The Singularity, Quantum Computing

Date March 16,2018

I ask your forbearance in getting this post out to you so late. I was in the hospital three times (almost three weeks since January 1st) and in rehab for two weeks all since the first of January.

First, my diabetes attacked my legs in what I can only describe as hellish.

I have read that it can take up to two years to heal!  Then one of the grafts that were hooked up during a quadruple bypass 17 years ago had to have a stent inserted.

So now I am back to my old self, just as ornery as ever.

So we saddle up our keyboards and begin anew.

I have been researching two topics simultaneously, The Singularity for this post and Populism for my dabberduckbutts.com blog.

I honestly cannot say which scares me more.

In the short term, the populist and nativism have bent in this country and many others around the world are doing the most damage I think.

The groundswell of its noise is becoming deafening mostly due to the antics of its chief proponent Trump.

Yes, I will get to that topic before long.

This image of The Singularity harkens to the painting by Michaelangelo. Google Images
This image of The Singularity harkens to the painting by Michaelangelo.

The Singularity

The Singularity caught my eye last year. I don’t know how or where I came across the article regarding the Singularity Hub.

Dr. Hugo de Garis has been a strong proponent of The Singularity and has written several books espousing the technological singularity

His best-known concept is Artilect War. “He predicts that a sizable proportion of humanity will not accept being cyborged and will not permit the risk of human extinction at the hands of advanced cyborgs and artilects.”

Professor de Garis is the author of two books “The Artilect War: Cosmists vs Terrans: A Bitter Controversy Concerning Whether Humanity Should Build Godlike Massively Intelligent Machines” and the other “Multis and Monos: What the Multicultured Can Teach the Monoclultutered Towards the Creation for a  Global State.”

The thought just crossed my mind regarding two battles currently being waged in rage by those for populism and nativism vs those that oppose those forces in the US and around the world.

Before going any further we should define the ideas espoused by the proponents of The Singularity.

Vernor Vinge, in a paper for a symposium by NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, categorically states that “within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”

This pronouncement is by a retired professor of mathematics and computer science who is also a science fiction writer.

His thinking appears in his paper “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era.

Professor Vinge states the acceleration of technological progress has been a central feature of this century.

He argues that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on earth. This change will be wrought by “entities” with greater human intelligence.

He postulates if we are able to answer the question: if artificial intelligence (AI) can create the human equivalent in a machine in the affirmative “yes, we can” so then there is little doubt that beings more intelligent can be constructed shortly thereafter.”

The Singularity then is the point of no return, technology will overtake humanness.

The Singularity depicted in a graph denoting the rapid acceleration as the time predicted for its beginning approaches. Google Images
The Singularity depicted in a graph denoting the rapid acceleration as the time predicted for its beginning approaches.

Another well-known futurist, Ray Kurzweil, is Google’s Director of Engineering.

He claims an 86% accuracy rate relating to his 147 predictions since the 1990s.

He predicts that “2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence.”

He continues “I have set 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion-fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.”

Mr. Kurzweil is not alone in his prediction. He is joined by Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son who predicts this will happen by 2047.

Kurzweil believes that process has already begun.

On his site: http://www.kurzweilai.net/, he also discusses Universal Basic Income, the end to human disease, the future of human longevity and so on. It is a clearinghouse for other fascinating articles and predictions.

Mr. Kurzweil proposes his ‘Law of Accelerating Returns’. He believes some of the incredibly fast revelations of the power and might of AI such as Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Neural Networks and so on have already crashed into our psyche.

Additional notable references to The Singularity are made by Peter Rejcek in an article “Can Futurists Predict the Year of The Singularity” March 31, 2017, posted at http://www.singularityhub.com.

He notes that many futurists are restless while waiting for The Singularity to occur.

They see it as a positive event to free us mere mortals so we can dedicate ourselves and our intellect to more high brow tasks than merely working, eating, living as humans.

Even Elon Musk, of the Space X rocket and driverless AI-powered semi-trailer trucks fame, has a strong interest in The Singularity.

Mr. Musk has a company, Open AI, that is dedicated to developing artificial general intelligence (AGI) to ensure the development of AGI is beneficial to humanity. AGI is another term for human-level intelligence.

Another futurist is Ben Goertzel, the chief scientist at financial prediction company ‘Aidyia Holdings‘ and robotics company ‘Hanson Robotics’. Hanson is an advisor to Singularity University.

Hanson Robotics has built the most advanced robot to date (March 2017). Her name is Sophia. She is a media darling starring on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Her press coverage has the potential to reach over ten billion readers. Breathtaking! She even has her own website.

Dr. Hanson believes that three main characteristics have to be developed in intelligent machines namely creativity, empathy and compassion.

He believes that genius machines can evolve to solve the world’s problems that seem to be insurmountable problems to humans.

Different faces of Sophia developed by Hanson Robotics. Google Images
Different faces of Sophia developed by Hanson Robotics.

So we have divergent views of what ‘The Singularity’ will bring.

Will it be creative and compassionate as Dr. Hanson wishes?

Will it be benevolent per Elon Musk?

Will it have the level of human intelligence of Ray Kurzweil?

Or will it be foreboding as Dr. de Garis envisions?

Just maybe The Singularity will not occur by 2045 as Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft asserts. His article “The Singularity Isn’t Near” appeared in the MIT Technology Review.

One of Mr. Allen’s assertations for predicting that the 2045 expected date will fail is that he believes that there will not be enough computing power by 2045. He also believes that software complex enough to calculate the components of the human brain will not be available by then either. This article was written in 2011 but seems as current today as it was then – until last month.

Quantum Computing

However, enormous progress has been made in quantum computing. This progress has just exploded in the last month or two.

Albert Einstein had trouble with Quantum Computing. “The Nobel Prize Winning physicist declared that the thinking behind quantum mechanics was fundamentally flawed.

Scientists have since proved the theory repeatedly and conclusively.” Jack Nicas October 16, 2017, How Google’s Quantum Computer Changed the World in the Wall Street Journal.

In his article, Jack Nicas interviewed Hartmut Neven, the German computer scientist that led the Google Glasses project.

Jack tried to use a “Cliff Notes” version of the theory of quantum mechanics and I must confess even the simplified version is way over my head.

I think I need a really ‘dumbed down’ version.

My simple explanation, and it may not be correct since it misses so much ‘meat’ is a single atom can be in two locations at the same time.

This, of course, leads to speculation of objects existing in multiple dimensions, or parallel universes.

In practical terms, I made mention in a recent post ( “Slamma Jamma”” published on January 29, 2018.) of the Chinese developing the perfectly secure system for transmitting documents using quantum mechanics. Per quantum mechanics, rules state once a bit (the “secret key”) has engaged any attempt to ‘hack’ into the record will destroy it. 

It would seem that is a pretty secure way to keep something. If someone tries to look in, boom, it vanishes.

The experiment that demonstrated this successfully was between China and Austria. It has led to the thinking of the ‘quantum internet”.

Just last month Intel joined Google and IBM in the race to build the first practical quantum computer by announcing a new 49 qubit neuromorphic chip designed

The quantum compter must be kept in a cold state to function. Google Images
The quantum computer must be kept in a cold state to function.

for computing research. Intel made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2018.

In an oversimplified explanation of how quantum computers work: regular semiconductors represent information as a series of 1s and 0s. The unit of computing in a quantum computer is a qubit. Qubits can compute as both a 1 and a 0 simultaneously. Two qubits can represent the sequence 1-0, 1-1,0-1,0-0 at the same moment in time. A quantum computer with as little as 50 qubits can pack more computing power than the most powerful supercomputers.

The basis of computing power is found in Moore’s Law. It dictates that computing power per unit would double every 18 months while the price per unit would drop by half.

However, the point has now been reached where the amount of money needed to squeeze out improvements is greater than in the past.

Quantum computing is a way to move past that.

In November 2017 IBM announced it had built a quantum machine that uses 50 qubits. This is a major breakthrough because it represents the critical barrier where quantum computers are believed to accelerate past traditional supercomputers.

A major issue with quantum computing is displayed in the IBM machine.

It can only maintain the quantum computing state for 90 microseconds at a time. These machines must be supercooled to work and a separate set of calculations must be run to correct errors in the original calculations.

Google’s quantum computer is racing to achieve “quantum supremacy” in 2019.

The test needed to pass to achieve this prize is an obscure computational problem that would take a classic computer a billion years to complete.

Success means that this computer will achieve something that even a few years ago would have been thought to be impossible.

This computer will mark the end of the ‘classical age’ of computing.

Hand in hand, the end of the classical age in computing and the beginning of the age of machine intelligence will mark extreme changes.

The next few years will mark advancements in human knowledge that have taken the time since man-made cave paintings to achieve.

When accomplished, the very next few minutes of time will eclipse that sum of knowledge.

Veering off Course

Another Googler, Google co-founder Larry Page has a flying taxi service. It is cleared for takeoff in New Zealand. This all-electric vertical take-off and landing machine has taken flight.

Cora the flying taxi of Kitty Hawk in New Zealand. Google Images
Cora the flying taxi of Kitty Hawk in New Zealand

Seemingly a cross between the Delorean of “Back to the Future” meets the hovercraft of “The Jetsons”, Cora is on the move. The comparison is presented in an article by Sherisse Pham of CNN Tech March 13, 2018.

“Cora” the vehicle takes off like a helicopter and transitions to a plane. Cora is self-piloting, can fly at 93 miles per hour and can travel 62 miles.

Fred Reid of the company Kitty Hawk which has its operations in New Zealand boasts of a “pollution-free, emission-free vehicle that flies independently.”

Uber and Airbus are also racing to commercialize flying taxis.

Meanwhile, in China, a company ‘Ehang’ released a video of passengers climbing aboard its autonomous drone and taking off with the push of a button.

Ehang boasts at least 40 successful journeys. It wasn’t until January 2018 that it shared footage of the flights.Video of Ehang 184.

It would appear that America’s first entry into the market, Boeing, has some catching up to do.

Your Choices

The Singularity, that potential “paradise” where humans won’t have to work.

Quantum computing where all the intransigent problems of the world can now be solved by computers.

Both of these ‘futures’ are still developing in the wings.

In the present, wings are being flown by a Chinese company Ehang and a New Zealand company Kitty Hawk.

These two companies are really the ‘disruptors’ today. They are showing the rest of the world the possibilities that can be realized now.

Explosion of The Singularity, Quantum Computing soon to come. Google Images
The explosion of The Singularity, Quantum Computing soon to come.

Thanks for stopping.

Craig

Red Rose Svetlana Manic 674670 - unsplash!
Red Rose Svetlana Manic 674670 – unsplash!