Driverless Car

Driverless-CarThe development of new technologies for the transportation system and the progress made by social media applications are the two main contributors for a radical change of the private transport.
Among the companies, the race to offer driverless cars to the market is just started and Apple, Google, Tesla and Uber are some of main companies involved in this challenge.
The above companies need partners in automakers to progress further because they do not have skills for the production of these. For the first time since the creation of the automobile, people has to rethink the purpose and usage of this vehicle.
Indeed, most of the past transport developments were based on mechanic and environmental implementations (e.g. construction of railroads, electric lights implementation, and improvement of engines performance and vehicle’s comfort for the passengers) but it was not conceived to give free time to the driver, this means offering passengers additional time for reading books, watching video, catnap, writing etc.
Besides leisure, companies want also reduce the risk of accidents because the vehicle’s movement is coordinated with the ones around and because it can move also if the visual condition is not perfect (e.g. fog, night and rain).
Because the communication with other vehicles, the car can reduce the time travel and the search of an available parking spot. Additional drones can move loads around the country and decreasing the number of vehicles on the road.
Among the IT companies, Google is the one in better condition to provide in short time self-driving cars to the market because the company has mapping databases, artificial intelligence know-how, and its fleet of driverless cars.
This is also time to take decision for what vehicles develop and at moment there are two approaches:
  1. The first approach, gradual implementation, it is supported by car developers (and by Tesla in particular) believes that driver-assisting technologies (advanced cruise control and functionalities like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class “traffic jam assist” – http://tinyurl.com/ncf8q7a for a complete view) should be added to existent vehicles and a pure driverless system should be reached only over time.
  1. The second approach, ground-up (led by Google) believes that a complete new car needs to be produced because there are so many technology developments available that does not make sense use the same concept of vehicle. Indeed, new feature involve all the aspect of the car, for example breaks, ignition, steering wheels and tires.
At this point would be interesting understand if people would feel comfortable with this driverless system and is this technology is 100% reliable at this stage. When Google tested this technology, the company made sign a contract to the passengers and the contract stated clearly that people in the car must be alert while the driverless system was on because it that was an experiment and an early stage of implementation. If something goes wrong drivers must take the control of the vehicles (would you go on a pilot free airplane, for example?).
Apparently the idea that passengers can enjoy free time on board collide with the reality that someone has to be ready to take control of the vehicle and this grey area is simple unacceptable.
As for many new technology at early stage even if this exists does not mean that people is ready for that or satisfy his needs.
It is really hard to predict when this kind of vehicles will be ready for the consumers, even if some companies are really confident that in 5 years the first cars will be available in showrooms.
New transportation systems have created changes in the society and in particular in time perception. In United Kingdom for example, the railways (not the postal office) was the one that enforced clock uniformity across the country.
Another element which goes under pressure is the space (check my book Bittersweet social media for more detail) because distance can be effected by new technology. People can develop a different perception about the distance between two location based on the quantity of time spent to reach them or in what condition (more uncomfortable you are during the travel and longer the distance appears).
With these intelligent cars, passengers will benefit of additional free time and they will be engaged with new activities during the journey and considering also that the communication between cars reduces the journey, also the perception of distance and time can be effected and changed.

IT Companies leaders in Artificial Intelligence

Comapanies Leaders in AI_SMArtificial intelligence (AI) is used in many different sectors nowadays, for example robotics, gaming, health care, gaming, motion and manipulation and music but its basis is still the analysis of big data.
Today social media is one of the main stream and source of digital information (images, sounds and texts) and AI is used to analyses the massive amount of information and predict events based on the behavioral traits, events history and such.
For example, one of the most important social networks, Facebook, uses own algorithms and it created an automated system, which is capable to promote the right ads to the right users and furthermore the system knows the right time and right place to propose those ads.
In the example above, the raw data come from the “like” buttons people use for approval, from cookies, from the texts or from image recognition.
Overall IBM is the leader company for number of patents related to AI (source USPTO) but Google is the company that more invested in image recognition, natural language processing and neural networks buying 5 different companies in the past two years. Other companies that are also investing in this field are: Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook. .
The main interest of those companies is to develop an application able to understand how people take images, what they take pictures of and why.
An example of software algorithm is the application of Microsoft “How old do I look?”, which is capable to tell the person age from a picture. Pinterest’s search engine “Guided Search” is based on images search and it is very inspiration for idea or narrowing down a research based on general need/idea.
The company which made a big progress in image search is Facebook. Indeed, according to Mike Schroepfer, Facebook Chief Technology Officer, Facebook’s AI Research team has developed a system that reached unprecedented results, the main ones are:
It detects objects in pictures 30% faster and using 10x less data training compared to existing systems.
The system is able to understand human speaking, to comprehend questions and to provide with answers.
It can predict the outcome (or consequences) by learning from observation.

The info above can be found at the web address: http://tinyurl.com/nz68bmy.

As seen above there is al lot of interest on AI and, furthermore, the technology is available today for research and these two components can bring to sensational findings really soon.Comapanies Leaders in AI_SM

Artificial Intelligence and Social Media

Wired android head. Digital illustration.
Wired android head. Digital illustration.

Social networks (SNs) are capturing a significant quantity of information on their users but this data is not structured and this means it is very difficult to put to use.
Because of the above issue, companies use Artificial Intelligent (A.I.) techniques to analyse SNs. These have extraordinary learning capacities, indeed these techniques are capable to process all the activities occurring over their networks and they are capable to analyse conversations, process facial recognition, and analyse gaming activity.
In general, according to Schalkoff, R.J. (1990) the scope of A.I. study is to “explain and emulate intelligent behavior in terms of computational processes”  through performing the tasks of decision making, problem solving and learning.
When applied to SNs, A.I. uses social computing and Data mining techniques for the analysis. The outcomes support marketer studies to identify influential profiles within networks and to use appropriate societal marketing approach to reach them.

Indeed, the better understanding of users’ preference and behaviors improves:
Marketing, specifically for consumer prediction, clustering and brand perception;
Sales forecast due to the the high accuracy of prediction for products and services demand, inventory control and distribution.
The application of A.I. to study the users’ behavior foster the discussion of ethics, in particular for the threat to privacy and threat to human dignity.
Indeed, any single users’ activity (even if the user is anonymous) increases the quantity of information available for a Data Mining analysis and improves the accuracy of predictions for single user. There is also the high risk that I.A. can replace humans in significant jobs (e.g. police officer, judge and soldier) because its capability to analyse fast and well people behaviors, and this would create frustration and alienation in people.

A.I. is impersonal and this means that it is limited to analyse and act according to the programming. Indeed, machines associate a specific action to a specific event.

For more information regarding developments and investments in this are, please find below some interesting readings:

Facebook and AI: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-34118481
Google: http://www.techinsider.io/the-10-craziest-projects-google-has-acquired-2015-9

Social ROI

SROINowadays there is a lot talking about Social Media for marketing purpose and the important contribution of them to the marketing campaigns but how is possible to quantify this contribution?
The Social Return Of Investment (SROI) is a possible answer. Originally, this rate was elaborated to monetize extra financial values such as environmental and social value, which impact also the investments made.
For the evaluation of this cost-benefit analysis is important to have a marketing plan available, which contains the following four points:
  1. Goals and business objectives and social media campaign objectives, which are part of the list below:
    1. Increase traffic for blog and website;
    2. Increase the number of inbounds calls and consequently the number of business opportunities;
    3. Increase the online visibility of brand and company’s products;
    4. Establish the reputation among the Social Media community as “Expert” in your topic or market;
    5. Generate more sales (ecommerce) and improve win rate.
2. SM Strategy
Based on the objectives identified, the plan requires a short and long strategy of communication. Indeed, in case of more leads generation, you may want consider, for example, a “Lead generation card” for Twitter or “Ad campaign” for Facebook. These two initiatives can be effective immediately but for a long term strategy it is beneficial to have a blog in order to have leads generated by the own traffic.
If the goal is to boost sales with e-commerce, a short term strategy can include the use of Facebook carousel ads and consider the development of Apps on a long term plan in order to provide to customer a friendly way to interact and buy from the company.
3. Traffic analysis.
The analysis of visitors’ traffic for the channels used can reveal important information to improve the effectiveness of the campaign itself. It is possible to use applications and services provided by external companies to get a clear picture of the users and to identify prospects and the company messages.
4. SROI calculation and evaluation.
The formula to calculate the Social Return of Investment is: SROI= (Benefit – costs) x 100 / Costs.
After calculating the rate is also important to analyse if the results are in line with plan’s objectives. Furthermore, beside the calculation of a mere number, the analysis has to consider also the organisation’s social impact generated by the campaign.

Social Media and Small Businesses

SM_smbSocial Media (SM) are one of the most important factors that small businesses owners must consider running the business.
This new media represent a convenient show case for companies business but Social Media must be managed properly to be effective. Business owners can decide the level of visibility for their company; for example, restaurants focus on local visibility and trading companies probably are more interested to global visibility.
Companies need to know that SM can also capture the consumers’ interests or critics and these are opportunities for business grow if they make the opportune corrections in time. Indeed, customer feedbacks are free advices for companies to make things right.
Users’ feedbacks and reviews are powerful and they can boost or destroy the company business because consumers’ decision are influenced by those. Top scores mean that the company is good in the business and make clients happy.

Using appropriate programs, business owners are able to track their social media metrics. The software provide data regarding the SM effectiveness and productivity. In particular, the programs inform if the company reaches the right target audience and the effect generated. They provide also details regarding the messages sent, for example what are the most effective posts, audience’s locations, what is the best time of day to post the message.
From a Marketing point of view, SM are very cost effective (cheap and with an adequate level of audience targeting) but they have to be used with a clear Marketing strategy in mind. Strategy means also teaching the employee to the correct use of these channels for a professional communication with clients. A lack of education and instruction can generate confusing messages, poor professionalism and dissatisfied customers.
This happen also when owners do not separate personal SM with business SM because consumers can be influenced by personal opinion, tastes or personal events.

Investors and SM as source of information

WealthyandSMRegarding the way to get information for their investments, investors have not the same approach and interest in SM.

“Social media usage — from Facebook to LinkedIn to YouTube — is a significant part of the daily lives of many investors” said George H. Walper, Jr., president of Spectrem.

The company has recently published the study: “Using Social Media and Mobile Technology In Financial Decisions” (2015) and according to it, the number of investors, who use SM to stay informed on financial topics, is growing. Facebook is the most used source of information with a 45% investors using it and followed by Linked In with 42%.
The study gives an idea of what is the SM behaviour of the the current investors and what will be in few years.
Indeed, Social Media are used most by young generations (See “Bittersweet Social Media” for detail) and also the average investor age, who uses SM, has this characteristic.
As the report states, these young investors will become middle-aged wealthy investors in few years and likely they will continue using their methodology, technology and social media for their information.
For the top first three categories of investors that do not use SM for getting information:
  • The 30% are ultra-millionaires ($5 million to $25 million in net worth), of which the highest percentage of people are older than 65 (37%);
  • The 26% are millionaires ($1 million to $5 million in net worth);
  • The 21% are mass affluent (100,000 to $1 million in net worth).
 In opposite, among the investors who use SM:
  • The 21% are millionaires ages 35 and younger who rely more on social media than traditional media for their information.
  • The 18% are ultra-millionaires’ investors ages 48 and younger.