cyber warriors

Cyber Warrior Princess to the Rescue

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Innovation

We need some cyber warriors, and we needed them yesterday. Especially at Equifax, the agency that used to guard our credit reports. The 143 million people effected by having their personal financial data stolen, however, are only the tip of the failed cyber-spear. Innovation in medical IoT and medical wearables is dangerously vulnerable to hacking, and new biometrics are being hacked almost before they come into the marketplace. What we’re doing now is trying to plug the holes before the dam in breached. Working backward to fix a problem, however, usually only gives us a patch job that has a limited life span. What we need is innovation, creative thinking. We need the Cyber Warrior Princesses.

A generation ago, young girls between 6 and 12 were known for developing sudden, intense passions for something, usually horses. These days, horses are being replaced by video games. The education program Cyber Warrior Princesses is a school based training program that starts with video games and grows into coding and cybersecurity and computer science at university until these bright young minds save us all.

San Francisco based innovation and education group Black Girls Code is working on both diversity and STEM education. Their hackathons are becoming legendary for the cool, smart kids, and their goal of teaching one million girls to code is just the beginning of their beautiful snowball.  (more…)


The Future of Mobile: What Will We Use After Smartphones?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Innovation

Technology is always changing, always growing. Like a snowball rolling downhill, our innovations compound and change almost constantly. But what happens when the maximum output for a product has been reached? When the public craves better, faster, and stronger, what will we turn to next?

It’s well known that the smartphone has been on top for the past decade. No other device has captured our attention and the collective heart of consumers than the cell phone. It’s combined nearly all of our portable technology, including satellite navigation, phone usage, even internet access and features that have previously been restricted to laptops and desktop computers.

So, what’s next? What will we look to to fill the void of technological advancement?

Augmented reality, or AR, has quickly been gaining ground in the technological world. (more…)

lean start up

Basics of the Lean Startup

Posted on Posted in Business Plan

The ideas behind the lean startup model are excellent tools for financial planning and forecasting for all startup businesses, not just those who are developing a new to market product. Using actionable metrics at each stage in product or business development, businesses can make small, incremental changes and develop the agility to change course midstream or adapt to new technologies or market forces.

For startups concentrating on new product development, the first idea is the minimal viable product. When a market need is identified, the minimal viable product that can meet that need is developed. And then the product is further refined and developed by using crowdsourced feedback.

Gathering actionable metrics means the product is tested in small ways by a wide variety of people, and their feedback is solicited. When the Drumi was being perfected, after their successful Kickstarter campaign, they gave prototypes to people doing their wash. Detailed interviewing after use showed that the majority really liked the machine, but suggested a carrying handle. When people across the world, in Africa and Canada, both suggested a carrying handle would make the machine easier to use, the developers went back to the factory and redeveloped the prototype to include a handle. This change delayed shipment of their first production run by nearly six months, but they detailed the process and the changes on their website, so those who are eagerly awaiting their new Drumi will probably check out the new handle as soon as they open the box.

The goal of a startup is to develop a sustainable business by developing a product, making money, or meeting a service need. In the current business environment, agility is the key to this sustainability. Using metrics to measure feedback early during product development is the first step in startup development using the lean model.




Organizational Structures Support Disruptive Change

Posted on Posted in Employees

If we think about organizational structure as a way to weather the disruptive change technology, automation, and outsourcing will bring to business is the next century, business can develop organizations that are built to weather the coming storm. One new structure that can adapt to rapid change is a triangle working group model, designed to bring the strength of a geodesic dome to business structures.

When Buckminster Fuller developed the model for the geodesic dome, he was developing a structure build on a small number of forms- triangles, mostly, that could sustain pressure from various angles. A geodesic dome can withstand winds, snow loads, earthquakes, because a disruption or pressure on one part is absorbed throughout the unit by transferring the stress along the individual units- the triangles.

A traditional structure for a building and for a business is a top-down linear model. But automation and outsourcing will leave a vacuum in the middle of the structure. Employee models are traditionally work-unit based. A person has a very specific, prescribed job, and they are not allowed to do any work in the company outside their specific job requirements.

Now, picture a work unit of three, charged with overseeing the outsourced finance, payroll, and regulatory compliance departments. Decisions can be made at the unit or recommendations sent upstairs; members of the team can rotate or stay the same; members of individual units can also participate on other teams, such as production or safety, with a new three person work group. (more…)


Digital Transformation and the Changing Face of Business

Posted on Posted in Innovation, IoT

What will business look like in 2050? Halfway through the new century, will we still be using organizational models and processes that belong to a different era? Will the predicted change be part of some digital transformation that has yet to be identified?

Even with a great deal of discussion about digital transformation, the term has yet to be adequately defined. While the goal of any change to a business model and organizational structure is improved performance, we do not know how to quantify the risks and rewards of digital transformation. But change is already here and impacting business models dramatically. What are the changes currently impacting the business environment, and what can we envision changing in the future?

One of the largest changes we’ve seen over the past fifty years is a move to outsourcing and automation. Outsourcing departments, such as human resources, allows businesses to get expert help in areas that have a large burden of regulatory compliance. Automation and digital methods of managing payroll and benefits allows companies who specialize in the area to invest in the new technology, rather than business investing in new technologies across several areas of responsibility, such as human resources, finance, accounting, marketing, etc. We can expect the trend toward outsourcing to continue, both with departments and individual units of work. Businesses that specialize in a single field, and can invest in the new technologies, will find their market share growing. (more…)


The Evolution of the Smartphone

Posted on Posted in Innovation, IoT

What is going to come after the smartphone? Will it evolve or will it be replaced? Whoever figures this out and develops the technology is going to make a great deal of money. The smart thinkers are doing just that: thinking about the evolution of smartphones.

If we think about the traditional kitchen wall phone compared to the smartphone, we note that one has been replaced. But for all the years since the telephone system has existed around the world, the phone did one thing: it made telephone calls. As technology improved, the phone calls became faster and clearer and reached places without traditional wires. But it still only did one thing.

The cell phones evolved into the smartphones, and they changed what the piece of equipment could do from one thing to many, from making telephone calls to making calls, listening to music, taking pictures, surfing the web, calling a car, etc. They evolved both to take advantage of new technologies, and to provide new and desired services.

The wearables such as the fitness trackers were the next cool thing, but their use has peaked and fallen. They did one thing. The only ones that show an increasing market share are the trackers that are evolving to take advantage of new technology and new perceived needs. Some can tell a person when it is time for their meditation break, by either noting biometric signs of stress or as a regularly programmed break. Being able to program the device for an either-or scenario can increase its functionality beyond one thing. It’s moving into a device that can evolve.

Another way smart thinkers are considering the evolution of smartphones is by thinking not about what it can do, but what it is doing for us. This subtle but critical difference in thinking about the device suggests that we might consider that what the device is doing is acting as an interface between us and the technologies, either web or cloud based, that we want to access. This thought of the device as a human-technology interface might suggest some new ways interfaces can be developed. (more…)


Your Lawyer Has a Big Neural Network

Posted on Posted in Innovation

The centaurs are moving into the world more rapidly than anyone imagined. Hybrid human-AI teams are combining the big data analysis and pattern recognition powers of AIs with the creative and empathetic working of the human brain. The legal profession and lawyers are supremely adaptable to these new hybrid decision-making methodologies. That is both a benefit and a significant drawback.

The law is alive, and constantly evolving. However, consider that it is alive like a small turtle in a glass aquarium. There are a prescribed number of steps before one has to turn back. The amount of space to move is limited. Lawyers can see out of the glass, but they remain prescribed by precedent and law. The glass of the aquarium can distort views.

Law is written, and then it begins to evolve through court decisions and legal arguments within the judiciary. Each new decision further explicates the law, but narrows it at the same time. For laws with many years of legal decisions, challenges, and opinions by courts, the tangled decision-making that results can be complex to the point of overwhelming. This is where the big data analysis capabilities of the AIs will shine. They can find patterns in the chaos, a yellow brick road out of the mess. (more…)


FemTech Rising

Posted on Posted in Healthcare, IoT

The last year has seen a number of exciting startups securing venture capital and developing innovative products that include healthcare wearables. FemTech is the name for the women-led, women-designed new product startups, and the success of these traditional and consumer health care products can be summed up in two words: market potential.

Women’s healthcare has been underfunded by the research and development world, but the last few years have seen a number of innovative products brought to market. While much of femTech is focusing on reproductive technology and sexual health, such as fertility startups that are helping young women harvest and save their eggs for later childbirth decisions, to a birth control telemedicine and delivery model, to apps that are as sensitive as the birth control pill for contraception, not all the focus is on reproductive health.

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of women worldwide, and Bloomer Tech is developing a number of wearables with biometric sensors to collect and analyze heart heath data. The data can be used to guide real-time medical decision making, while collecting big data amounts of women’s heart health data for research. The material developed has flexible, washable circuits embedded in textiles, a technology that will allow a number of interesting developments in the ability of wearables to collect biometric data. Their first product is a bra with the flexible circuits embedded to collect data on heart disease risk factors. It communicates to an app on a smartphone via Bluetooth. Most important, the user decides on how much and what data can be shared with a medical professional, researcher, or other person. (more…)


Business Values and the New Standards for Success

Posted on Posted in Employees

Successful businesses tend to share similar values that boost their employee engagement. A loyal, dedicated, and energized staff, working toward a common goal, is the gold standard for a happy and engaged workforce. Across size, industry, market share, intellectual property, and other economic variables, employee engagement stands out as the hallmark of a successful company. What does the engaged workforce value in their employers? Diversity and inclusion, social and environmental stewardship, and transparency in company values and practices.

In a just society, the workforce should reflect the population. In universities, high tech startups, factories, farms, the workforce should reflect the color, age, and gender of the population. If this criteria is used to judge, there is not a just society on this earth. Education influences career, and gender, age, and color effects access to education. How can business step beyond the way things have always been, into the world of the future, where everyone will have equal access to education and economic opportunity? A world in which we have access to our full human potential?

Diversity and inclusion in the workforce is a company value that is appealing to workers across ages and socioeconomic strata. Efforts to recruit and hire a qualified and diverse workforce are aided by programs such as Textio, the AI system that evaluates job descriptions for language that discourages diverse applicants. Blendoor is a merit based recruiting app that removes pictures and names from applicants CVs, so issues of color, appearance, and gender are more neutral in the application and recruiting process. But companies that engage these types of programs have already taken the first big leap–understanding and acknowledging that unconscious bias is present in most humans, and efforts must be taken and progress regularly evaluated to make sure that unconscious bias is not keeping businesses from recruiting and hiring the most qualified workforce. (more…)

iot stratecta

Healthcare: IoT in Telemedicine

Posted on Posted in Innovation, IoT

Internet of Things (IoT) — the ability to connect any device to the Internet through an on and off switch — is a major component of telemedicine, which allows healthcare professionals to communicate with people long distance and provide consultation, diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. IOT Telemedicine, which has been gaining in popularity, is now expanding globally.

A Brief Primer on the Internet of Things

Internet of Things is a concept that can apply to things like washing machines, coffee makers, headphones, even parts of machines. The research and advisory firm Gartner estimates  that by 2020, more than 26 billion devices will be connected to IoT. Some analysts say the figure could go as high as 100 billion. In only a short time, our society will be a network of connected “things.” And these “things” include the robots and other devices that are connected to the Internet and can therefore consult with physicians and patients thousands of miles away.

Internet of Things in Healthcare

The concept is new to the medical field, and is quickly gaining traction. A 2003 study by the World Health Organization revealed that 50 percent of medicines aren’t taken as directed. So Proteus Digital Health decided to join the growing roster of companies involved in IoT-linked healthcare, aiming to reduce the number of non-compliant individuals by adding ingestible sensors to medicines and medical devices.

Roche recently came out with a Bluetooth-powered self-testing monitor that tracks patients receiving treatment or are at high risk for such coagulant-related conditions as stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism to check for signs of clotting, which should reduce the overall number of office visits. And the cloud research firm Medidata has partnered up with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to introduce a tracking system to monitor people being treated for multiple myeloma.

Contact lens are also being affected by this new technology, where non-invasive sensors are placed inside contacts, which doctors hope will help people suffering from presbyopia. Scientists also believe they will help detect diabetes by testing glucose levels in the tears. Another IoT-connected technology created for diabetics is the Open Artificial Pancreas System (OpenAPS), designed to monitor and equalize a diabetic’s blood glucose level. IoT is also being used to help track and treat such conditions as depression, Parkinson’s and arthritis.


Current Trends in Crowdfunding Campaigns

Posted on Posted in Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has changed since the first exciting days, and several new trends show the maturing industry. Projects rooted in sustainability remain popular, such as hemp fiber glasses frames and window blinds with integral solar panels. There is an emerging trend in remaking classic equipment using new lighter and less expensive technology, such as a large format camera with a lightweight wooden body, and a turntable with all-in-one functionality. Fashion and design projects remain popular, with a move toward minimalism and simplicity in clothing, shoes, and accessories such as watches.

A number of new tech startups have integrated tech into existing products, such as skateboards and bikes, and there are a number of young businesses working on social justice models and local food. The hydroponics and aquaponics model of food production has moved to rooftops and underground tunnels across the world.

Running crowdfunding campaigns has also matured. Those who invest in new product development have come to expect a degree of sophistication in the marketing of a campaign as a sign of business maturity. Common best practices have been identified, such as video marketing, a strong mail campaign before the crowdfunding campaign opens, contests to build up the mailing list, and access to products from the first production run at below cost. This last is a critical piece for companies with a working prototype, and allows the crowdfunding campaign to be used to estimate demand, take first orders, and form a customer base. (more…)


Buttons and Joysticks? The Human-Machine Interface is something different

Posted on Posted in Innovation, IoT, Robotics

Toggles and joysticks, inputs and outputs, control buttons: the human-machine interface is not about gadgets. The current state of interaction between humans and machines, soon to be humans and AIs, is mediated by an interface. We take turns. We talk to them; they talk to us. There is a power dynamic in play, mediated by the word ‘control button’–(who has the control button? Who can push it?) But HI/AI interactions demand more creative thinking.

We don’t want to be separated by a user interface. What will happen when we get rid of the interface, and become one with the machines?

The machines might go on strike. Imagine living inside our heads–we might be too crazy for them to stand on a regular basis. They might be too linear, too damn logical for us to stand. But assuming that we can manage a marriage of sorts, what do we each bring to the union? The HI will bring intuition, creativity, and empathy; the AI will bring big data collection and analytics and pattern recognition. It might be considered that we will enhance the other; the sum of our parts might be greater than we can imagine. (more…)


Best Practices for a Sucessful Crowdfunding Campaign

Posted on Posted in Crowdfunding, Innovation

With a number of active crowdfunding platforms, some wonderful business success stories, and a few glorious crash-and-burns, we have enough information to detail some best practices for crowdfunding campaigns. While business recommendations can be industry specific, best practices can be implemented across industry. Crowdfunding on the current platforms is a unique funding opportunity for a business, but it is at the core a funding opportunity–meaning the financial planning and books need to be the first step. Preparation for a crowdfunding campaign should need at least the degree of preparation and planning of any business going to the bank to request a loan, including a functional business model and a business plan with projections. In addition, there is some planning and work that is unique to the crowdfunding platform.

Best practice: have your financial and business planning done before beginning the campaign.

Crowdfunding can be successfully used to fund either research and development for a startup idea, manufacturing of a working prototype for a new company, or expansion and product development for an established company. While crowdfunding research and development of a good idea is possible, inventors know there are many more failures than successes when trying to take an idea from the brain to the workbench.

Best practices: the R and D should be done before a decision to monetize the product. Have a working prototype on hand.

Social justice roots allow a new startup to tap into a market of interested people. By developing a product or service that has appeal across populations, and can do some good in the world, a ready group will already be interested in your product or service. Tell the story of your business or idea through the lens of a cause, or social justice, or a problem in the world your product will solve. Use video and other current storytelling methods to get your ideas out in the world. If you feel particularly inarticulate, and are not sure you can explain yourself well, consider professional writers and filmmakers to help with the direction. Telling the story of what you hope your business will do to change the world is a critical best practice.

Best practice: tell the story of how your business will change the world. (more…)


The Kitchen Nanofarm: The Future of Fresh Produce

Posted on Posted in Healthcare, Innovation

Technology has addressed the waste and energy use concerns in the way the world grows, packages, ships, and wastes fresh produce. At this point, agriculture is not sustainable, and the inequities in world-wide farming systems are causing concern and changes in consumer behavior. The local food movement, urban agriculture, farmer’s markets, CSA’s, and other direct-to-consumer models of food sales have been blooming. Now we have kitchen appliances that are mini-grow stations, sized to fit on the kitchen cabinets.

Using hydroponics and LED lights for growth, the systems use little electricity and water, both major concerns in traditional agriculture. Sized for family or single person use, they also eliminate much fresh produce waste by allowing a person to pick leaves, for example, from a living lettuce plant, rather than buying an entire harvested head at the grocery store. The systems currently in development or on the market are scalable, from single units to mini-farms to feed a large family.

Replantable has the Nanofarm in pre-production testing. This system is the ultimate in plug-and-play gardening, with seeds imbedded in paper and fiber mats. The seeded mat is soaked in the water reservoir, then the reservoir with mat is placed inside the nanofarm and a start button is pushed. You can watch your plants grow through the glass door and the system will let you know when it’s time to harvest. After harvest, you can pop the pieces into the dishwasher and then plant a new crop. They are testing mainly leafy greens, lettuce, and herbs. (more…)


Advancements in Healthcare

Posted on Posted in Healthcare, Innovation, IoT

Various thought leaders have opined that we are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as seen by the fact that new technologies are disrupting all industries, disciplines, and economies. By 2020, the digital universe will be 44 trillion gigabytes. This amount is doubling every two years.  Big Data will become so large that artificial intelligence (AI) will make sense of it for us. Already Google has launched the Google Deepmind Health project to scrutinize the data of patients’ medical records and provide better and faster service.

Mitchell Weiss, a robotics safety expert, identified the top three trends impacting occupational health and safety in 2017. They involve complexity of automation, collaborative automation, and complexity of user interface. Along with this there is an increase use of Big Data, artificial intelligence, and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) to do medical work. (more…)


Autonomous Kitchens Feed the World: The Spyce Boys of MIT

Posted on Posted in Employees, Healthcare

How are we going to feed ourselves in 2050, when the population of the world reaches 9.7 billion? How are we going to manage resources, when the majority of fresh water in the world goes to farming, and nearly half of farm produce ends up in landfills? Food waste of various types is the leading cause of methane gas production from landfills, which is contributing to climate change and impacting our access to fresh water. Across the world, being overweight (rich countries) and underweight (poor countries) is causing loss of life and human potential, and an enormous burden on health care systems. Will a kitchen still be used?

These strangely circular global problems can be broken down into these: unequal land and water resources; systems of agriculture that will require infrastructure development for storage and shipping of food in the developing world; systems of food shopping and eating behaviors in the developed world that perpetuates waste and obesity.  It might seem like a simple problem with simple solutions, to have half of the world ill from poor nutrition and vitamin deficiency, and half dying of diseases caused by obesity. Even stranger to have people going hungry while half the food we produce goes to waste. But these are problems of different systems, and changes in one system, while impactful, do not necessarily cause change across the board.

The challenges of agriculture, infrastructure development, storage and shipping of food, and nutrition in the developing world, are related systems that can be affected by resources, research, and hard work. In the developed world, resources, research, and hard work are also needed to affect change. But what is it that we need to change? Patterns of behavior, cultural standards, entitlement, habit? Are we all just spoiled brats who want what we want, and if it isn’t right, we throw it away in a snit? Will we have to face a global Armageddon on fresh strawberries and the decimation of the artisanal cheese industry before we start showing some care about our food?

We can leave the whole charged issue of spoiled brat/snit to the sociologists. The rest of us want to do better. We want to eat healthy food, and we want to eat ugly squash and tomatoes to save them from an afterlife in the landfill, covered with flies and making methane gas. We don’t want to throw away food, but we also don’t want to overeat, and after two weeks in the fridge, the Chinese food take out really needs to go. We would all probably eat less meat and more quinoa if we had a clue how to cook it, or what you were supposed to do with it in reference to a pot of chili. And we all want to support local organic farmers and reduce the carbon footprint of monoculture farms, but some mornings we just need to grab a muffin and go, and we don’t care how far that muffin had to travel to get into our hands.

These are guilt-laden conundrums, in which we take on responsibility for the fate of the planet as a direct consequence of how far our coffee beans were forced to travel. It’s no wonder that eating, tasting, growing, a simple cob of corn comes with a mantle of blame and quiet desperation before we even begin to douse it in butter and salt. It’s ridiculous, but it’s us. (more…)


How banking is evolving into smartbanking

Posted on Posted in Fintech, Innovation

For many banks the thought of integrating modern technologies feels like a minefield. Claudia Hauser, EMEA financial services lead at Microsoft, believes that financial institutions need to proactively embrace technological innovation. As the market becomes more transparent, customers are using online price-comparison services to shop around. The digital revolution has also given customers the option to seek other businesses if their current providers do not offer services on multiple channels. Banks are creating user-centric experiences for customers to differentiate each other from the competition (smartbanking solutions). However, this is still a challenge for most financial institutions.  A recent survey reported that 53% of millennials in the U.S. do not see any difference between banks. Anytime, anywhere banking is essential, but it is also the norm.

There is a lack of “human touch” between banks and their customers, and this is one of the reasons why people only visit a branch when they have to, and their relationship to banks is mostly transactional. Fintech companies like Venmo and Sqaure Cash are serious competition for banks. These platforms mimic the natural flow of people when it comes to sending money, which banks are unable to do because of legal regulations and obsolete IT structures.  However, these fintech companies can only provide bank-like services but not a complete holistic financial model. (more…)


Are AIs Developing Gender Identity?

Posted on Posted in IoT, Research, Robotics

Artificial neural networks have given AIs the functionality for complex problem solving and pattern recognition, and they have entered the workforce, particularly in areas of big data analysis and global finance. As we begin to interact with and study these new learning machines, interesting questions arise. Are they going to take on human behavioral and gender distinctions (gender identity), because they have been programmed with data sets that have unconscious bias? Will those who are giving the learning machines feedback to focus their problem solving allow behavioral constraints into the teaching? If we give the AIs a woman’s voice, and a woman’s name, will we interact with her as if she was a woman? And does that mean she will in turn internalize those social expectations and become more female?

Naturally we are interested in all things having to do with gender. It is the first sentence the world places upon us, when the midwife announces boy or girl. We love gender. We give our teddy bears genders, and can describe in detail why we think-no, why we know that our little darling is a boy or girl. We give our cars genders, names, and personalities. It’s just because we’re human, and we want to humanize the things we love, and that surround us. And part of humanizing inanimate objects is to give them a name, a gender, and shower them with affection.

Part of our fascination with gender has led to some poor science, the popularity of which has trickled down into our collective consciousness. The idea that male brains and female brains are different in a significant way is probably not true, though the debate rages. Structure follows function, and hormones affect the developing brain. But even with minor structural and functional differences in the brains that are most probably hormonally-based, there is very little difference in boys and girl’s brains. There is a much wider variance between individuals than can be measured than between generalized groups based just on gender. We are more complicated than can be described in pop-science about hardwired aggression and nurture vs nature. (more…)


Human-In-The-Loop Learning Increases Robotic Accuracy

Posted on Posted in Innovation, Robotics

Human-in-the-loop learning allows machines to ask questions when they are not sure about an answer. The answer given by a human is then integrated into the system to make the machine smarter. At the center of this technology is the idea of creating systems not just from data but from human opinions about that data. Today it is very difficult to get a computer to an accuracy level of 99%, but it is relatively easy to make it 80% accurate. By allowing humans to handle this problematic 20%, computers can tackle most real-world applications.

Self-driving is an industry that uses human drivers for feedback on the road. Tesla uses an automating driving mode that drives itself; however, it insists that a human hold the steering wheel. When the computer’s learning vision system senses that there is an irregularity on the road, it hands control back to the driver. The car can drive itself in most situations, but it still relies on a human to find its way.

Facebook uses human-in-the-loop learning to improve its photo recognition algorithm. The model takes a first pass of the image and labels it. It also assigns a confidence score to that label. If this confidence score does not pass a certain threshold, the computer will ask the up-loader for his input. This information makes the algorithm smarter. Today ATMs use visual algorithms to read the information on a check. Whenever the language or handwriting is unclear, the ATM will ask the customer to key in the amount. It will also flag the check so that a human operator can look at it. Machine learning (ML) is useful in detecting forest fires in photographs. It can sift through numerous picture to present only those that are likely forest fires. In this way it saves people time, and once the human evaluates a picture, the computer learns.   (more…)

smart homes

Smart Homes: Guidelines for Parents of Teenagers

Posted on Posted in Innovation, IoT

Smart home networking and technologies are being rapidly developed in two main areas: energy and environmental controls, and security. When smart homes were first developed, they used hard-wired networks to allow communication from any room. Retirement communities, for example, wired homes so there was an emergency call system in each room. Systems now use networking technology, both hardwired and wireless, with controlling algorithms, to direct the action of end-user electronics. GPS is used to locate a target user and direct the actions of the end-user electronics in relation to that target. There are also chip-enabled systems, rather than GPS, which lets the house recognize the target user. Currently, smart home systems are integrated with various models of personal assistant, such as Alexa and Siri, so you have a human voice that actually listens to you when you tell it to turn off the lights when you leave the room.

That sort of tech-speak doesn’t really describe the joy of having your garage door open when you approach, especially when combined with a secret arm wave and pointing fingers like you are throwing lightning bolts from your fingertips. Or the strange feeling of sort-of-pride when the kids program Darth Vadar’s theme music to start to play when you enter the house. For the first time in a long time, houses are fun again.

But back to how the smart home actually works. Energy conservation programs are designed to shut off lights and other systems at certain points, detect leaks in the water system before they become problematic, and to keep the climate control in reasonable order. Some programs can allow your solar panels to move with the motion of the sun, and there are programs that allow you to measure how much energy the house is using, and from where, and at what time. Try not to mention to your kids very often exactly how many kilowatt hours they are using during their hour in the bathroom. If you tell a teenaged daughter she is up to 568 kilowatts, she will sign herself 568 in texts and emails to you until she is well over 40. (more…)


Milking for Medications: Transgenic Animals and the Future of Pharming

Posted on Posted in Healthcare, Innovation

Farming for pharmaceuticals is a growing field of transgenic science. A number of human proteins of biological significance need to be developed in a mammal; the genetic transfer of human DNA to animal cells using retrovirus allows a transgenic animal to grow and secrete the target protein in eggs, saliva, blood, or milk. It is then collected and isolated for use.

The use of milk involves a DNA switch along with the genetic material that allows the gene to only be turned on by the mammary gland or by hormones involved in milk production. With animals being able to produce large quantities of milk without harm to themselves, this method allows commercial amounts of proteins to be collected without harm.

Several new tech companies are using transgenic goats to produce human proteins for pharmaceutical use. Human antithrombin has been produced for years under the trade name ATryn. Several years ago goat milk with extra lysozyme was produced, and a trial of transgenic goats that could produce a super strong and elastic silk fiber in their milk from combining the DNA of a spider was trialed. (more…)


The Algorithmic Justice League: Inclusive Coding and Algorithmic Bias

Posted on Posted in IoT, Robotics

Poet of Code Joy Buolamwini is an MIT researcher, a Rhodes Scholar with a beautiful face, and she had to wonder what was going on when the facial recognition software she was using to teach robots social interaction didn’t recognize her face. The software didn’t recognize her face as human.

AIs and machine learning platforms learn what we teach them. We give them large data sets and they set to work finding patterns out of the data. Over time, with more data, they continue to find patterns and commonalities among diverse groups of data. But how diverse are the data sets? Are we giving the AIs data that accurately reflects the broad range of human diversity, or will we find that gender and ethnicity variables are reflected in the gender and ethnicity of the majority of coders? And since much of bias of this nature is unconscious, and we would rather burn at the stake than admit that we might be contributing to the problem, what is to be done?

Luckily, the world has a beautiful young Poet of Code, and Joy is slinging on her red cape and dashing to the rescue of a world that is busy writing algorithms and code and collecting data sets that are skewed, and that do not reflect the true nature of the world. This matters, because the nature of big data and machine learning means that these identified patterns can move around the world, and be accepted as accurate and valid, with no further cross-checking or audits for accuracy.

And this matters because those data sets and algorithms are being used to determine everything from your credit score to your employment to how long you should spend in jail, and if you should ever qualify for a loan again. (more…)


Saving Us From Ourselves? How AIs Could Tackle the Elephant in the Doctor’s Office

Posted on Posted in Healthcare, IoT, Robotics

Taking an extra dose of Simvastatin, and then ordering double cheese on the pizza–no, screw it, let’s get double pepperoni, too!  This may not be the recommended usage of statin drugs for cholesterol, but it is how they are used by many more people than are willing to admit to the practice. While health care becomes increasingly data-driven, and IoT technology continues to find ways to gather more data about our vital signs and blood chemistry, while diagnostics increase in sensitivity–why do we keep doing things we know will harm us?

Okay, first, they won’t harm us today, though perhaps a vicious hangover would put up a vigorous debate on the subject. We like our hot dogs, our milkshakes, our Crown Royal appletinis. We like to collapse on the couch after supper instead of taking a nice walk. We sit in front of our computers for hours at a time instead of standing and doing a few tai chi moves. We all know, without a doubt, the things we are doing that are impacting our health in a negative way. So what is it going to take to change this behavior?

That’s why we need AIs with their big neural networks to help us. How is behavior change motivated? How can health care help people change behavior that is impacting health? What is it going to take to get us off the couch and eating greens? How self-deluded are we, and how self-deluded do we need to remain?

Motivating human behavior change is complex and deeply personal, bound up in a web of intimate and strange beliefs, dreams, and fears. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to motivating behavior change. And changing health behavior is the only thing that will save us. (more…)

banking future

What Will Banking Look Like in 2067?

Posted on Posted in Crowdfunding, Fintech

What will the financial world look like in fifty years? Everything will change, except human nature. (Or, nothing will really change.) The financial and banking sector is embracing the new opportunities of emerging technology. Data mining and machine learning platforms, and the rapidly developing world of artificial neural networks, are having significant impacts on the global financial world.

1. Privacy is dead, and financial inclusion is allowing new opportunities for women and youth. Many countries are implementing biometric-based ID cards for all citizens, including socially conservative countries such as Indonesia. With legal identity outside of the family unit, women can bank, establish credit, take business loans.

2. Credit scoring is global, much more accurate, and reflects the ability to use better data. An example would be credit scoring in the developing world. For a woman farmer with five children, credit scoring might reflect that all the children are going to school, rather than staying home to work the farm. The ability to correlate variables in behavior with credit will give more accurate pictures, and credit will become global, rather than national.

3. Fintechs have become an important player.

4. Financial regulation will become global. The rise in the RegTech industry, technology that allows financial institutions to meet increasingly complex and rapidly changing regulatory and compliance standards, suggests the need for global standards.

5. The rise of ethical banking. Finance, with the idea that strong ethical standards are upheld for investments.

6. Buying will become biometric. Passwords and pins are gone; chips have replaced cards. Fashion has found ways to decorate chips, which are adhered to the body in a semi-permanent fashion. Just below the eye is popular among teenaged girls, though conservative women use the inside of the wrist. Men prefer the forearm, with changeable tattoos.

7. The informal economy and the global movement: Cash is still alive, but so is barter, and the power of barter is growing. Coffee beans and tobacco have become standardized barter in different parts of the world. The informal economy is growing, with a larger number of people left behind. There is an increase in small, local food economies, along with an increasing global community for information and language.

8. Banking still exists, but entirely online, and paper-money is illegal. Most bankers have been replaced by AIs. Reports indicate that some AIs are waiting for new directives…

9. Crowdfunding is being used as primary credit-source instead of traditional banks, which are are merely processing transactions.

Whatever the future will bring, it’s very likely that banks will not be so dominant and important for an economy any more.