AI.. What do we want?

In fairness, this is a rather wide and open-ended question. One that requires a lot of thought. It is dependent upon what one perceives as AI, therefore, expectations will differ. Personally? I believe that communication is the first key to successful integration of AI into the human psyche and herein lies a problem.  As I have said previously, there are many systems available that can answer questions, some of them quite complex, but they lack the element of empathy. The questions must be worded in a particular way and the responses are somewhat automated.

 

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The image above is not our brain, so we don’t respond as such. AI is a computer, as it stands, and that is the issue. Incompatibility, especially when communication is necessary. The preprogrammed response that is currently the norm will no longer suffice if AI is to become a widely accepted part of everyday life, but what is the alternative?

A group of researchers, led by Professor Komatani, at the Osaka University are developing a protocol that involves implicit confirmation. Much of the issue surrounding AI understanding is that is cannot confirm the meaning of a new word in its lexicon and requires explanation. That is okay in a scientific environment, where the word can be ‘explained’ but not in a domestic setting or in an autonomous vehicle, for example. The computer can not learn, nor can it guess if it doesn’t have the tools. The implicit learning system allows the AI to use the word and check whether it gets the predicted outcome. If so it can add the words or phrases to given scenarios.

The system can be split into two distinct forms:

Machine learning – Using algorithms to analyse the data and learn, then using the data to make predictions. It includes both supervised and unsupervised learning processes, followed by reinforcement from responses.

Dialogue learning – AI learns to communicate and converse in a natural manner through implicit confirmation.

The above is somewhat simplified but does show where AI can and will go in the near future. But is it enough?

For now, it is another step forward and our personal assistants will sound a little less like automatons, but the key is in intelligence, and how we perceive it. We process so many levels of information simultaneously, from a full set of sensors. AI cannot do that yet and it is doubtful that it will be able to in the near future, but research is getting there, and new technologies are presented on a daily basis.

It is a long way down the AI information highway and I think it is fair to say that we are just approaching junction one.

 

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The Must See Tech Trends for 2018

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It Is Fair to Say…

That much happened in the world of tech during 2017, and that gives us plenty to look forward to in the coming year. Here are some of the highlights.

1. Robotics

Many of you will have seen the developments made in robotics, including Sophia, the worlds first robot citizen. In real terms, it could easily be argued that this was little more than a publicity stunt (Apparently she now wants a baby?), but it does illustrate how far robotics has moved on. The technology can now recognise facial movements and gauge mood based on voice stress and facial expression. Surely it is a good thing, in terms of the medical applications that are now being developed? Research has shown that there is a growing confidence in using robotics as a family-friendly addition to the household. Honda robots, for example, are designed around the 3E Philosophy which is built on empowerment, experience and empathy. Robotics is not that far away from becoming a household norm, so, better get that charging point fitted!

2. 5G

3G, 4G, 5G… Where are we going with this? The answer is in the need for faster and more stable mobile internet connections and that is not specifically to make your Pokemon go run more smoothly. 5G has a number of more practical applications such as autonomous vehicles and wireless VR. Its low latency and high-speed data transference is essential for the driverless vehicle to make ‘on-the-go’ decisions more quickly than the human brain can process the information. Surely a safety feature worth having. Wireless VR also demands such high data speeds to maintain the virtual reality experience. On the plus side for those of us who don’t play in such high echelons of technical geekery, 5G could allow the download of a film in around 4 seconds.

3. Artificial Intelligence

It is already here and many of us use it. For example, The Digital Personal Assistant. They are sprouting up everywhere, in the form of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and other products of a similar ilk. But what is next? More of them at a guess but the technology is evolving to introduce a higher level of empathy from the systems. It will allow for more natural conversations and the ability for AI to explain its actions. e.g “I increased the heating to 21 degrees as I knew you would be home soon and it is very cold in here”. Preemptive decisions with a purpose and explanation. A simple example, admittedly, but you can see where this will go in future AI assistants. Artificial intelligence is also essential in the development of autonomous vehicles for making decisions on road conditions, traffic analysis, and a whole raft of other information to make the drive as seamless as possible.

pexels-photo-595804.jpegThe technological advances being made on a daily basis are quite frankly, frightening and there is a lot more to come. Please check back for the latest blurb as I attempt to keep up!

My name is Jay Tomkinson and I create technical blogs and articles for Facebook, and customer websites. Please visit my facebook page – J-Tech Copy Services.

Thank you.

Minimal Viable Product

It is an unfortunate fact that up to nine out of ten start-ups fail before they get the opportunity to show their true worth. There can be any number of factors that cause this, but the most common is not having the correct product. A top design team, technical back up and a marketing guru are no guarantee of success if the market does not want or need the product. The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) process is an invaluable tool in reducing the chances of failure and arguably, an essential element in the building a new product.

The Minimum Value Product Process

As suggested in the title, the MVP is not necessarily a product, more a process to refine and realise a marketable product. Many start-ups brainstorm an idea, deciding what they think the public want to buy, and building an MVP without carrying out the required research and tests. A skeleton built product emerges that is probably half of what the team wanted, but the best that they could come up with in a limited time and budget. The outcome is usually failure.

An MVP initially works on the minimum risk strategy. What is the minimum that can be designed to test the theory. It does not necessarily need to be a physical product. A worked out concept can, and probably should be the first part of an MVP. The important fact is that assumptions should not be made and testing the concept with minimal financial outlay is the first logical step. The only way to test the product or concept is to put it in front of the target audience. There is a defined process for achieving this goal.

  • What risks am I taking?
  • What is the minimum I can do to display the concept or product?

For example, it may be possible to show the concept on paper initially or a simple mock-up, and begin by showing it to a focus group or target audience. Take the data from this initial release and build from the data provided. However, the process is not a one off, it is a continual evolvement at each stage of the product development. Building the next stage at minimal risk and testing again. There is no given limit to how many times the process should be performed. The result will be a product that has evolved through a series of market tests, failures and successes, but the process does not end with the design of a viable product.

Marketing

The processes that have been used to bring the project to fruition can be applied to all aspects of the product launch. In any campaign, a competent marketing strategy is essential and using the same basic rules will minimise the risk of spending valuable advertising budget in the wrong area.

  • What risks am I taking?
  • What is the minimum I can do to display the concept or product?

In the case of a low budget start-up, finances for advertising and marketing the new product are likely to be in short supply, so the process of minimising initial risk and testing the response makes financial sense.

In conclusion, the Minimal Viable Product is a tool. Use it well, and give your start-up the best chance of success.

I have been away a while…

Unfortunately, these things happen and illness strikes. It causes no end of mayhem but there you have it, I am back. I am not exactly sure what the purpose of this blog is so I am winging it for a while to get my fingers back into typing mode. I have been reading a lot during the illness time and have managed to keep current with how things are going in the content marketing world. It is a strange place to live but it is my little universe that oddly, keeps me sane! I know a few writers that would disagree with that but there ya go, each to their own. I have decided to keep this short and get on with what I need to do to pay the bills. As I said, it has been a while!

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I write every day as it is my job, and occasionally it pays the bills (I do emphasise ‘occasionally’), so why do I write in my spare time too?

The simple answer to that is – I enjoy it and it is great to get away from the more technical and advertisement based writing that my day job requires me to do. Writing is a passion for those of us who take it seriously, but sometimes it is necessary to unhook from the real world and enter the realms of fantasy that writing a fictional piece allows us to do. There are no real rules in that world and the characters can be what we want, who we want and doing exactly what we want.

Generally, when writing fiction, I employ the ‘pantster’ philosophy, i.e. No plan – Just write it. In fact, ‘Just write it’ is my personal motto and also my screen saver, so when I become disenchanted with the piece I am writing and stop; the screen saver reminds me of my purpose and why I do it. It may sound a little silly, but for me, it works and I pick up from where I left off. This year I am using a different approach and using a plan I have been working on for about a week now. J-Tech Copy Services will run as normal and I relish the challenge of interspacing my work commitments with my leisure activities. I believe some will say that it is not possible to combine the two, so I intend to blog about both and we will see what happens.

For me? It is a little time were I am not worrying about keywords or SEO or short deadlines. I can go with the flow and learn to enjoy writing again. That, I believe, will help me in my day to day work too.

Wish me luck!! I may need it ….J….

SEO… Why?

It seems like an obvious question, but I think it is important to analyse the reasons for SEO and decide whether it is so important as to have an overriding effect on what gets written in the name of the internet.

Firstly, for the uninitiated, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation; which in simple terms means: Putting the correct words in the correct places to elevate a post’s position in the league tables. I accept that this is an oversimplification of the truth, but that is basically what using SEO does. 

I have no problem with it and I understand its importance to business. My issue here is the practise of using keywords just for the sake of it and Keyword stuffing’ to generate more traffic. I have witnessed some terrible writing practices in the name of SEO and I feel that it should stop… Immediately.

As writers, we write to humans, not the internet, and it is humans that will read our work and decide on whether to click on a post or a website, based on the words that they see. I accept that a one thousand word essay on the joys of food mixer ownership is going to bore the pants of most people and will undoubtedly lead to a ‘click’ to a more interesting and useful article, but can we not keep ‘keywords’ to the title? or even a very short introductory paragraph?

Writing is an art form and as such, should be enjoyed by all who see it. We create pictures with words and entice the reader in with beautiful prose that they want to read, to experience and to relish. The internet is undoubtedly a powerful medium but let us not forget that writing, in all forms, has been used for thousands of years. Let us not destroy it with mechanical and meaningless copy.