Category Archives: Work

AI Digital Assistant verse Search Engines

Aren’t AI Digital Assistants just like Search Engines? They both try to recognize your question or human utterance as best as possible to serve up your requested content. E.g.classic FAQ. The difference in the FAQ use case is the proprietary information from the company hosting the digital assistant may not be available on the internet.

Another difference between the Digital Assistant and a Search Engine is the ability of the Digital Assistant to ‘guide’ a person through a series of questions, enabling elaboration, to provide the user a more precise answer.

The Digital Assistant may use an interactive dialog to guide the user through a process, and not just supply the ‘most correct’ responses. Many people have flocked to YouTube for instructional type of interactive medium. When multiple workflow paths can be followed, the Digital Assistant has the upper hand.

The Digital Assistant has the capability of interfacing with 3rd parties (E.g. data stores with API access). For example, there may be a Digital Assistant hosted by Medical Insurance Co that has the ability to not only check the status of a claim, but also send correspondence to a medical practitioner on your behalf. A huge pain to call the insurance company, then the Dr office, then the insurance company again. Even the HIPPA release could be authenticated in real time, in line during the chat.  A digital assistant may be able to create a chat session with multiple participants.

Digital Assistants overruling capabilities over Search Engines are the ability to ‘escalate’ at any time during the Digital Assistant interaction. People are then queued for the next available human agent.

There have been attempts in the past, such as Ask.com (originally known as Ask Jeeves) is a question answering-focused e-business.  Google Questions and Answers (Google Otvety, Google Ответы) was a free knowledge market offered by Google that allowed users to collaboratively find good answers, through the web, to their questions (also referred as Google Knowledge Search).

My opinions are my own, and do not reflect my employer’s viewpoint.

Microsoft Flow – Platform Review

It looks like Microsoft created a generic workflow platform, product independent.

Microsoft has software solutions, like MS Outlook with an [email] rules engine built into Outlook.  SharePoint has a workflow solution within the Sharepoint Platform, typically governing the content flowing through it’s system.

Microsoft Flow is a different animal.  It seems like Microsoft has built a ‘generic’ rules engine for processing almost any event.  The Flow product:

  1. Start using the product from one of two areas:  a) “My Flows” where I may view existing and create new [work]flows. b) “Activity”, that shows “Notifications” and “Failures”
  2. Select “My Flows”, and the user may “Create [a workflow] from Blank”,  or “Browse Templates”.  MSFT existing set of templates were created by Microsoft, and also by a 3rd party implying a marketplace.
  3. Select “Create from Blank” and the user has a single drop down list of events, a culmination events across Internet products. There is an implication there could be any product, and event “made compatible” with MSFT Flows.
    1. The drop down list of events has a format of “Product – Event”.  As the list of products and events grow, we should see at least two separate drop down lists, one for products, and a sub list for the product specific events.
    2. Several Example Events Include:
      1. “Dropbox – When a file is created”
      2. “Facebook – When there is a new post to my timeline”
      3. “Project Online – When a new task is created”
      4. “RSS – When a feed item is published”
      5. “Salesforce – When an object is created”
    3. The list of products as well as there events may need a business analyst to rationalize the use cases.
  4. Once an Event is selected, event specific details may be required, e.g. Twitter account details, or OneDrive “watch” folder
  5. Next, a Condition may be added to this [work]flow,  and may be specific to the Event type, e.g. OneDrive File Type properties [contains] XYZ value.  There is also an “advanced mode” using a conditional scripting language.
  6. There is “IF YES” and “IF NO” logic, which then allows the user to select one [or more] actions to perform
    1. Several Action Examples Include:
      1. “Excel – Insert Rows”
      2. “FTP – Create File”
      3. “Google Drive – List files in folder”
      4. “Mail – Send email”
      5. “Push Notification – Send a push notification”
    2. Again, it seems like an eclectic bunch of Products, Actions, and Events strung together to have a system to POC.
  7. The Templates list, predefined set of workflows that may be of interest to anyone who does not want to start from scratch.   The UI provides several ways to filter, list, and search through templates.

Applicable to everyday life, from an individual home user, small business, to the enterprise.  At this stage the product seems in Beta at best, or more accurately, just after clickable prototype.  I ran into several errors trying to go through basic use cases, i.e. adding rules.

Despite the “Preview” launch, Microsoft has showed us the power in [work]flow processing regardless of the service platform provider, e.g.  Box, DropBox, Facebook, GitHub, Instagram, Salesforce, Twitter, Google, MailChimp, …

Microsoft may be the glue to combine service providers who may / expose their services to MSFT Flow functionality.

Create from Blank - Select Condition
Create from Blank – Select Condition

 

Create Rule from Template
Create Rule from Template
Create from Blank Rule Building UI
Create from Blank Rule Building UI

 

Update June 28th, 2016:

Opportunities for Event, Condition, Action Rules

  • Transcoding [cloud] Services
  • [IBM Watson] Cognitive APIs
    • e.g. Language:Translation; E.g.2. Visual Recognition;
  • WordPress – Create a Post
    • New text file dropped in specific folder on Box, DropBox, etc. being ‘monitored’ by MSFT flow [?] Additional code required by user for ‘polling’ capabilities
    • OR new text file attached, and emailed to specific email account folder ‘watched’ by MSFT Flow.
    • Event triggers – Automatic read of new text file
      • stylizing may occur if HTML coding used
    • Action – Post to a Blog
  • ‘ANY’ Event occurs, a custom message is sent using Skype for a single or group of Skype accounts;
    • On several ‘eligible’ events, such as “File Creation” into Box,  the file (or file shared URL) may be sent to the Skype account.
  • ‘ANY’ Event occurs, a custom mobile text message is sent to a single or group of phone numbers.
  • Event occurs for “File Creation” e.g. into Box; after passing a “Condition”, actions occur:
    • IBM Watson Cognitive API, Text to Speech, occurs, and the product of the action is placed in the same Box folder.
  • Action: Using Microsoft Edge (powered by MSN), in the “My news feed” tab, enable action to publish “Cards”, such as app notifications

Challenges \ Opportunities \ Unknowns

  • 3rd party companies existing, published [cloud; web service] APIs may not even need any modification to integrate with Microsoft Flow; however, business approval may be required to use the API in this manner,
  • It is unclear re: Flow Templates need to be created by the product owner, e.g. Telestream, or knowledgeable third party, following the Android, iOS, and/or MSFT Mobile Apps model.
  • It is unclear if the MSFT Flow app may be licensed individually in the cloud, within the 365 cloud suite, or offered for Home and\or Business?

Cloud Storage: Ingestion, Management, and Sharing

Cloud Storage Solutions need differentiation that matters, a tipping point to select one platform over the other.

Common Platforms Used:

Differentiation may come in the form of:

  • Collaborative Content Creation Software, such as DropBox Paper enables individuals or teams to produce content, all the while leveraging the Storage platform for e.g. version control,
  • Embedded integration in a suite of content creation applications, such as Microsoft Office, and OneDrive.
  • Making the storage solution available to developers, such as with AWS S3, and Box.  Developers may create apps powered by the Box Platform or custom integrations with Box
  • iCloud enables users to backup their smartphone, as well tightly integrating with the capture and sharing of content, e.g. Photos.

Cloud Content Lifecycle Categories:

  • Content Creation
    • 3rd Party (e.g. Camera) or Integrated Platform Products
  • Content Ingestion
    • Capture Content and Associated Metadata
  • Content Collaboration
    • Share, Update and Distribution
  • Content Discovery
    • Surface Content; Searching and Drill Down
  • Retention Rules
    • Auto expire pointer to content, or underlying content

Cloud Content Ingestion Services:

Cloud Ingestion Services
Cloud Ingestion Services

Applying Gmail Labels Across All Google Assets: Docs, Photos, Contacts + Dashboard, Portal View

Google applications contain [types of] assets,  either created within the application, or imported into the application.    In Gmail, you have objects, emails, and Gmail enables users to add metadata to the email in the form of tags or “Labels”.  Labeling emails is a very easy way to organize these assets, emails.   If you’re a bit more organized, you may even devise a logical taxonomy to classify your emails.

An email can also be put into a folder and this is completely different than what we are talking about with labels.  An email may be placed into a folder, and have a parent child folder hierarchy.  Only the name of the folder, and it’s correlations to positions in the hierarchy provide this relational metadata.

For personal use, or for small to medium size businesses, users may want to categorize  all of the Google “objects” from each Google App,  so why Isn’t there the capability to apply labels across all Google App assets?  If you work at a law firm, for example, and have documents in Google Docs, and use Google for email, it would be ideal to leverage a company wide taxonomy, and upon any internal search discover all objects logically grouped in a container by labels.

For each Google object asset, such as email in Gmail, users may apply N number of labels to each Google Object asset.

A [Google] dashboard, or portal view may be used to display and access Google assets across Google applications, grouped by Labels .  A Google Apps “Portal Search” may consist of queries that contain asset labels.  A  relational, Google object repository containing assets across all object types (e.g. Google Docs), may be leveraged to store metadata about each Google asset and their relationships.

A [Google] dashboard, or portal view may be organized around individuals (e.g. personal), teams, or an organization.  So, in a law firm, for example, a case number label could be applied to Google Docs,  Google Photos (i.e. Photos and Videos),  and of course, Gmail.

A relatively simple feature to be implemented with a lot of value for Google’s clients, us?  So, why isn’t it implemented?

One better, when we have facial recognition code implemented in Photos (and Videos), applying Google labels to media assets may allow for correlation of Emails to Photos with a rule based engine.

The Google Search has expanded into the mobile Google app.

Leveraging Google “Cards“, developers may create “Cards” for a single or group of Google assets.   Grouping of Google assets may be applied using “Labels”.   As Google assets go through a business or personal user workflow, additional metadata may be added to the asset, such as additional “Labels”.

Expanding upon this solution,  scripts may be created to “push” assets through a workflow, perhaps using Google Cloud Functions.  Google “Cards” may be leveraged as “the bit” that informs users when they have new items to process in a workflow.

Metadata, or Labels, may be used such as “Document Ready for Legal Review” or “Legal Document Review Completed”.

Building AI Is Hard—So Facebook Is Building AI That Builds AI

“…companies like Google and Facebook pay top dollar for some really smart people. Only a few hundred souls on Earth have the talent and the training needed to really push the state-of-the-art [AI] forward, and paying for these top minds is a lot like paying for an NFL quarterback. That’s a bottleneck in the continued progress of artificial intelligence. And it’s not the only one. Even the top researchers can’t build these services without trial and error on an enormous scale. To build a deep neural network that cracks the next big AI problem, researchers must first try countless options that don’t work, running each one across dozens and potentially hundreds of machines.”


This article represents a true picture of where we are today for the average consumer and producer of information, and the companies that repurpose information, e.g. in the form of advertisements.  
The advancement and current progress of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, analogously paints a picture akin to the 1970s with computers that fill rooms, and accept punch cards as input.
Today’s consumers have mobile computing power that is on par to the whole rooms of the 1970s; however, “more compute power” in a tinier package may not be the path to AI sentience.  How AI algorithm models are computed might need to take an alternate approach.  
In a classical computation system, a bit would have to be in one state or the other. However quantum mechanics allows the qubit to be in a superposition of both states at the same time, a property which is fundamental to quantum computing.
The construction, and validation of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, algorithm models should be engineered on a Quantum Computing framework.

Time Lock Encryption: Seal Files in Cloud Storage

Is there value in providing users the ability to apply “Time Lock Encryption” to files in cloud storage?  Files are securely uploaded by their Owner.  After upload no one, including the Owner, may decrypt and access / open the file(s).   Only after the date and time provided for the time lock passes, files will be decrypted, and optionally an action may be taken, e.g. Email a link to the decrypted files to a DL, or a specific person.

Additionally, files might only be decrypted ‘just in time’ and only for the specific recipients who had received the link.  More complex actions may be attached to the time lock release such as script execution using a simple set of rules as defined by the file Owner.

The encryption should be the highest available as defined by the regional law in which the files reside.  Note: issue with cloud storage and applicable regional laws, I.e. In the cloud.

Already exists as a 3rd party plugin to an existing cloud solution?Please send me a link to the cloud integration product / plug in.

G.E. Plans Big Entry into IoT, Providing Analytics and Predictive Rules

G.E. Plans App Store for Gears of Industry

The investment of $500 million annually signals the importance of the so-called Internet of Things to the future of manufacturing.

G.E. expects revenue of $6 billion from software in 2015, a 50 percent increase in one year. Much of this is from a pattern-finding system called Predix.  G.E. calls its new service the Predix Cloud, and hopes it will be used by both customers and competitors, along with independent software developers. “We can take sensor data from anybody, though it’s optimized for our own products,” Mr. Ruh said.

[Competitive solutions from IBM, Microsoft, and Google] raises the stakes for G.E. “It’s a whole new competition for them,” said Yefim Natis, a senior analyst with Gartner. “To run businesses in a modern way you have to be analytic and predictive.”

G.E. is running the Predix Cloud on a combination of G.E. computers, the vast computing resources of Amazon Web Services, and a few [local] providers, like China Telecom.

China, along with countries like Germany, [are] sensitive about moving its data offshore, or even holding information on computers in the United States.  
The practice of “Ring fencing”  data exists in dozens of jurisdictions globally.  Ring fencing of data may be a legal and/or regulatory issue, that may inhibit the global growth of cloud services moving forward.

Source: G.E. Plans App Store for Gears of Industry