Artificial Intelligence part of strategic planning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not more a futuristic concept but it is real and it will change the economy and society in few years heavily.

Giants like: Google, IBM, Apple and Amazon use AI technology to transform the customer experience. For example, recently Starbucks used Alexa (Amazon’s cloud-based virtual assistant) to optimize its costumer experience. The application provides users with a voice-activated way to place their typical order (E.g. “Alexa, tell Starbucks to start my usual order.”) or check their card balance.

On the other side, small businesses are investigating how AI can help them drive down costs, better accommodate customers and remain competitive with their increasingly tech-driven peers. For those small businesses unfamiliar with AI, the risk to loose competitiveness is more than concrete and they need to make AI part of their company strategic planning because AI facilitate to achieve company’s goals. For example, for a company clothing store, probably the primary need is to have a predictive analytics technology to reduce staffing inefficiencies. A restaurant cares of autonomous delivery vehicles (for example using Uber’s Self-Driving Truck) or for company with complicated accounting, it might want to easy the process (http://www.businessinsider.in/AI-is-here-Saygoodbye-to-accountants/articleshow/57431399.cms) .

In conclusion, by setting specific and highly focused goals, companies make easier the identification of the right AI and the integration with the business.

Role of IT for AI

For companies business AI need a specific IT infrastructure to work properly, from which it cannot be detached for now. Using AI, it means also that companies have to adopt a modernised approach to IT (this means start using cloud computing solution, which they can easily auto scale according to the AI implemented).

In the long run, AI pay dividends and because the constant innovation of this market, companies must to keep a close eye to the market to avoid fell behind the competition.

Bluetooth and IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) implies connectivity, and developers have lots of wired and wireless options at their disposal to make it happen. Certainly the Internet is the main one but there are also other systems, for example Mash networking and Bluetooth.
December 7 was made available the latest Bluetooth technology with the name “Bluetooth 5”. This new version has been developed to support the increasing development of IoT, and to support multiple linked objects and interacting each other. The main new features are highlighted in greater distance connection, speed and, of course the ability to connect multiple devices simultaneously. Specifically, the signal has quadrupled the distance for connection, doubled the speed and is eight times the capacity of transmitting the message compared the previous version. This will surely give more stability to the IoT communication also because the new technology reduces interference with other devices.

October 2016 DDoS attack and IoT challenges for 4 top industries in 2017

In October 2016 some of most heavily trafficked web site in US and Europe (e.g. Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit and CNN) had more than one problem to guarantee the continuity of their online services. This because they experienced the worst DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack in their history. In specific, a network of computers infected, with special malware known as a “botnet”, were coordinated into attacking a server with traffic until it collapses under the strain.

This situation was made possible by two main factors:

  1. DNS infrastructure vulnerability;
  2. Many cheap and not secured IoT devices connected (in particular cameras and DVR players), which made the life easier for cybercriminals.

After that attack, backbone providers have increased their security level but nothing has been done for the security of IoT devices.

Considering the area with more developments and investment in IoT and also considering the consumers’ demand and expectation, there are four sectors with high risk of security:

  1. Healthcare. The 2017 will be a year with more investment in IoT (more devices and digital applications) because IoT represents a solution for many different healthcare problems (e.g. patients with blood pressure can be monitored from home and also other preventive and diagnostics are possible). The risk is that attacks could disrupt the service and those could also steal personal IDs and data.
  2. Financial. This sector will face difficult time due to different situations. From one side, they have the challenge of Bitcoins and Artificial Intelligence and, on the other side, consumers’ devices and Apps could represent a threat.
  3. Retails. For 2017, the B2C revenue generated by apps and IoT (see recent Amazon developments) have a positive forecast but this will generate additional challenges to protect this business and sensitive consumer’s data.
  4. Communication and Media. Companies operating in this sector have the double necessity: strengthen their service security and still guarantee an easy access across multiple channels.

CETA agreement and Wallonia

ceta_signIn August I wrote about the CETA agreement, that is a proposal for a free trade between Canada and the EU

(http://www.valeriocirella.com/2016/08/21/ceta-agreement-eu-canada/).

Few days ago I was surprised reading, on an important international financial newspaper, that the Treaty could not be signed by EU due to uncertainties of the “small” regional Parliament of Wallonia (the French-speaking Belgian region with 4 million inhabitants) which stops the ratification of the Belgian Parliament (I remember that to be valid the agreement must be ratified by the all EU states).

As this agreement will impact on the lives of European and Canadian citizens (costs and origin of goods and future scenarios) I wanted to do a little analysis.

To protect the strategic agricultural sector, Wallonia wants simply be reassured about two main points:

  1. Quality of Canadian goods must be in line with those in Europe, to avoid being penalized by unfair competition.
  2. Creating an impartial and transparent courts and that the agreement does not represent a loophole for American multinationals, based in Canada, that can use the agreement to sue European governments.

I must also remember that no European country has submitted this agreement to a popular referendum (at least so far). Minimising the issue, or point the finger at a small region, it does not seem correct in my view. We should thank this region instead, because it has generated a popular debate, discussed his points with a big country like Canada, which has recognized the demands.

In fact, diplomatic actions, clarifications between Belgium and Canada and tweaks to the Treaty made possible the ratification by the Belgium Parliament. On October 30, 2016 the agreement CETA was signed between Canada and the EU.

Maybe mine is just a feeling but I believe that this agreement lays the basis for an extension in many years from now, which will include the free movement of people, labour and … the creation of one currency.

The evolution of the ‘Internet of Things’: Internet of Nano Things(IONT)

iontAs soon as it is believed that a new frontier is approaching another one shows up at the horizon. In this case I’m talking about the “Internet of Nano Things”. This is a connection system based on a series of very small components capable of circular even in our body or be mixed in the materials used for the construction of buildings and things and that are connected together to exchange information.

IONT uses nano devices (comparable to one hundred nanometers), which, taken individually, are able to provide enough functionality and perform simple tasks but, if supported by IOT, may perform more complex tasks.

This new technology can be used in so different contexts. For example, in the medical field, going to integrate the body area network and allow a more accurate communication of body values as shown in the image below.

body_area_network

They can also be integrated into other components in order to have very accurate maps and rich in detail as changing light, magnetic fields, chemical concentrations in the air, electrical current etc.

Is currently being studied, the method of communication between these nano devices. There are two hypotheses on the subject:

  1. Molecular communication. The information (message) would be encoded and enclosed in a molecule and then be received and decoded by another molecule.
  2. Electromagnetic communication. The message is sent using electromagnetic radiation released by components present in nano-materials.

Unfortunately, there are not many details available about these methods of transmission and must remit the full explanation for the near future.

Although this may seem fascinating and definitely can help to improve the conditions of human life, we must also reflect on the dangers they pose to the protection of privacy and personal safety. In fact, as I nano devices are so small that they can deliberately or inadvertently be easily inhaled or introduced in the body, they may cause reactions of our immune system or be toxic. In addition, these devices can be integrated into materials for the construction of houses and other objects, even without our knowledge, and could capture and release personal information.

China and Artificial Intelligence investments

According to Gartner, China is investing heavily in the adoption of high technology.

There are two factors that drive this:

1. High number of internet users. There is an estimation of 650 million internet and 980 million mobile internet users in 2016.
2. Big consumer base. This gives good expectation in terms of return.

Furthermore, China can develop AI technologies quickly because specific and unique conditions:

  1. The Country has data availability. This means that Chinese have access to large volume of training data due to the fact that they have a different concept of privacy, compared to the west world.
  2. Companies attract the best talents from the competition with aims to bring experience in and deliver results quickly.
  3. Economic availability for investment and acquisitions.

The picture above shows the quantity of investment in US companies. Startups are setting up and supported for development of AI technologies. The existing companies, like the web services providers Baidu, are also investing in this sector because profitable. For example, Baidu’s Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence Lab (SVAIL) is investing in speech recognition and translate this research into products. The company also is applying AI to automobiles, aiming to mass-produce a driverless car in five years. Only in 2015, the company spent $1.5 billion, which represents the 15% of revenue, on research and development, of which AI is a crucial part.

I believe, the conditions described above are unique for one single Country and it will be hard for anyone else to catch up with it.

CETA agreement EU – Canada

CETAIt’s been few weeks that the international newspapers have mentioned and discussed the agreement between Canada and the EU: “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement” (CETA). Let’s see the details in this article.

CETA is important because it could be also the predecessor of a more important and complex agreement (in terms of value and regulation), which is under study and negotiation between the US and EU, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

CETA was concluded in August 2014 and in July 2016, the European Commission has formally proposed the signing and conclusion of the agreement to the European Council. The process requires that after the approval of the European Council, this will come into force temporarily. To get the final approval, and be valid permanently, the proposal must have the consent of the European Parliament and ratified by all EU member states.

Specifically, let’s see the content of this agreement (source: European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ceta/index_en.htm):

  1. Sustain the economic growth and, therefore, employment. It is believed this possible because four years after the agreement with the Republic of Korea, European exports to South Korea grew by 55% for goods and 40% for services. It is estimated that every billion euro of exports creates 14,000 jobs and increases the salary of that specific sector of export.
  2. There will be no duties on exports and this means a saving of € 600 million a year for EU companies. The products that will benefit the most will be those agricultural and industrial.
  3. Participation in public tenders at all levels for European companies. To date, this market is 30 billion euro. This opportunity is only given to European companies, in fact there are no other international companies that can join.
  4. It will create a forum for cooperation and regulatory control between the two parties. The objective is to suggest regulatory measures to improve cooperation. Most important, specific goods such as: electrical equipment, toys, industrial machines and measurement equipment must comply with both parties’ regulations. This means that a European body will test the goods mentioned above to assess the conformity of the supplied market. Special attention is given to the food market and the environment. The Canadian products may be imported and sold in Europe only if they comply with European rules, so they can not contain growth hormones or GMOs. The high quality standard European products, however, will find more opportunities and be more competitive in Canada, which is a country with high wages and which seeking the European quality.
  5. Protection and preservation of European innovations, artistic and traditional products. Canada will align copyright protection to the world organization rules of intellectual property.
  6. Canada reduces or cancels barriers also for European services, in particular financial services, telecommunications, energy and maritime transport.
  7. The agreement promotes and protects investments. Investors of the two blocks will be protected and will have the same legal and economic treatment and shall enjoy the same rights in whatever country they are. Therefore, this agreement is to eliminate any origin discrimination.

CETA supports democracy, public health, safety and the environment. CETA will not affect in any way the right of countries to govern themselves for the public interest.

After NAFTA, for Canada this agreement is the most important they will have. They became favorable to this agreement with Europe, following a careful assessment of the benefits that may result. The deal is done to create economic growth and protection of public interests, environmental and public health.

Private interests in public areas are excluded. For example, if a country wants keep the monopoly of water supply, oil, telecommunications etc, it is free to do so.

Based on official documents available, this agreement is signed in the best intentions to free trade and, therefore, in the interests of the companies. I remember that also the European Economic Community (EEC) was created for the same goals in 1957, and in 1993 the states decided for a stronger integration with creation of a Union of States. This integration created a new supranational administration and a single currency.

Based on the history above, probably it will not surprise if this is the beginning of a Euro – Canadian Union.

Top 3 revolutionary transportation projects – available soon

transportationTransportation is undergoing one of the biggest transformations in history.

There are many projects under evaluation and many others under implementation. For example, we heard about flying cars, drones for public transportation, electric planes, self-driving bus etc.

Companies are investing in new ways for humans to get from one point to another in the most efficient way.

This article focuses on the top three developments we will see the realization soon.

  1. Hoverbike. This is a vehicle that can hover and resembles a motorbike. Among the company interested in the development, Aerofex has set the release date in 2017. The product will be named Aero-X. The vehicles rises 3.6 mt (10 feet) from the ground and it can reach a speed of 72 KM/h (45 miles/h). it is designed to transport 2 people and run for 1,24 hours. The engine is based on gasoline and the price starts from $85.000. The vehicle does not need a specific tarred surface and are safer for drivers because not based on wheels.
  2. Self driving cars. They are becoming a reality and some major automakers believe in a release date in semiautonomous vehicle by 2020 and a full autonomous vehicle in 10 years. The main benefit for users would be: increase of safety, more free time, reduction of carbon emissions and use of those also for elderly people or who does not have the ability to drive.
  3. Super Maglev Train. Chinese and Japanese researchers are working on a new and fastest version of Maglev (super Maglev). The current train is fastest train in the world and can reach 900 km/h (260 miles/h). To have a comparison, the fastest train in Europe is AGV Italo, which can reach 575 Km/h (357 m/h). The super Maglev could reach 6480 km/h (1800 m/h). To reduce the air resistance the researchers want encapsulate the train in a vacuum tube pressurised. As matter of fact, the challenge is the realisation of such huge infrastructure around the train.

If realised, such vehicles would change the demography in any country and also our behaviour.

I.J. Good and the “intelligence explosion”

GoodToday I want to talk about a great man I.J. Good (9 December 1916 – 5 April 2009) who was a British mathematician and futurist.

My interest for him is due to the fact that he anticipated the concept of ultra-intelligent machines (a step ahead to AI).

Good was a mathematics prodigy, who once stood up in his crib and asked his mother what a thousand times a thousand was. During the healing period from the diphtheria, he discovered the irrational numbers and before fourteen years old he rediscovered mathematics induction.

During WWII he contributed to decode German’s encrypted communication, providing useful and sensitive information to the Allies.

At that time he introduced, for the first time, the concept of ultra-intelligent machine. He stated: Let an ultra-intelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultra-intelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultra-intelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control”.

Intelligence explosion is the expected outcome in case the technology singularity happens. Technology singularity is the scenario where artificial intelligence triggers an unprecedented technology growth, which subverts the current human civilisation.

Nowadays, the AI is limited by the intelligence of human brain but if the IT and AI developments should continue with today trend, the risk of creating a super-intelligence (expansion of human intelligence) would be feasible. This means that computers would have more intelligence than human beings and these lose control of the situation and, therefore, end up being controlled by machines.

If, however, we assumed that humans could still control machines based on self-imposed limits (although I do not see this plausible), since the discovery generated by these ultra-intelligent servers would be truly exceptional, would these discoveries shared with all humanity or they would be used unilaterally for purpose of oppression?

Scientists have different ideas regarding the evolution of human capabilities.

  • One idea believes that the human being’s capability is immutable.
  • The second idea believes in a commensurate evolution of human with the progress of AI (due the fact that we learn from discoveries). This will create a greater human intelligence and this will support the creation of more advanced AI and so on.
  • The third idea is a combination of the previous two. Indeed, some futurists suggest that will be possible to upload minds to computers to amplificate the intelligence of humans.

Returning to the quote at the top, Good was hoped that the ultra-intelligent machine was the latest invention made by man as it would be detrimental to the human species. It must be said, though, that Good lived during the Second World War and he thought that, to overcome human problems (E.g. war, nuclear weapons and pollution), the ultra-intelligent machines were essential. I would add that are essential to the point of no return … ah yes …. what is the point of no return?

Local languages and Globalization

LanguageImageI heard an interesting talk on the radio this morning. The speakers discussed the future of regional dialects if the globalization stays in place.

Globalization is a system based on the interconnections of different aspects: economic, political, cultural, linguistic and environmental. This system is capable to make irrelevant the existing boarders and boundaries. Globalization aims to standardize and harmonize processes and communications. This means also that few languages are used as standard for communication and this marginalizes the role of local and regional languages in the society and economic context. In other words, as the world economy becomes more integrated, a common tongue has become more important than ever to promote commerce, and this reduces the use of regional dialects and minority languages creating a distinct disadvantage for those ones. Furthermore, telecommunications have pressured the languages to become more standardized and affecting local variations of language.

Local languages are the synthesis of the evolution of both community and history. I strongly believe those are an asset for the people because remind them where they came from and make the community stronger because it is a shared value between individuals. Dialects are beautiful to hear because characterized by a mix of ancient and modern words and the sound is also influenced by different cultures. Examples are in any country around the world (E.g. Italy, Spain, China, Arabic countries, Balkans).

Globalization is also supported by internet and, of course, social media, which users have reviewed words to fit sms, tweets, emails and this has been transforming the good writing in a loss of art.

Because people wants learn English for the reasons explained above, the English native speakers are not fully motivated to learn a second language.

The communication is crucial for the human being and If a common language allows an easy communication with people around the world, this is welcome for me but, on the other hand, the scholastic programs must protect local languages making them part of the education in order to avoid the language’s standardization and the loss of an important part of national history and patrimony. Maintaining and protecting local languages help people and, specifically, children to value and appreciate the own culture and heritage. For people working abroad and for who lost they native language, they risk to lose also the link with family and native community.

For all the reasons reported above, it is extremely important do not be short-sighted on this topic and work all together to protect local languages and dialects and increase their usage.