Posted by & filed under Amazon, IT and Politics.

It was, as the local public radio station said, the day “Seattle Nice” died. On May 2, the residents of Seattle were hit with a one-two punch. For months, the city council had been debating a new tax on large employers to raise $75 million for new affordable housing and services for the homeless, whose growing population had burst out of shelters and into tents around the city.

In the late morning, just before a council hearing, a columnist for the Seattle Times broke the news that Amazon.com Inc., the city’s largest employer, was playing hardball. The typically hermetic company said it paused expansion plans for buildings that would house about 7,000 employees pending the outcome of the upcoming tax vote.

Source: Bloomberg Technology News

Date: May 16th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-15/behind-seattle-s-amazon-tax-seething-tensions-livid-neighbors-and-rising-rents

Discussion

1) “each new tech job creates four to five non-tech jobs over the next decade.”  Why do tech jobs help the economy so much?

2) Does it make sense to levy an additional tax on tech companies that create so many jobs?

Posted by & filed under App Economy.

“I open the app on my phone and scan the camera across the busy London street. Like in Pokémon Go, I’m looking at the scene in front of me through my phone, and bubbles are popping up in real-time.

But these aren’t Pikachu or Poké Balls – they’re single, attractive strangers who are using the same augmented reality app as I am. Their faces are circled on my screen as I pass them physically in the street.”

Source: BBC Technology Insights

Date: May 16th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/d342e05c-58a4-493d-92c7-c77bbc872ab5

Discussion

1) What might be the ethical issue of using or deploying this sort of app?

2) How might you use this sort of technology more usefully than just for dating?

Posted by & filed under Augmented Reality, Automation.

Google recently announced Google Duplex, a new technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.

One of the key research insights was to constrain Duplex to closed domains, which are narrow enough to explore extensively. Duplex can only carry out natural conversations after being deeply trained in such domains. It cannot carry out general conversations.

Source: Google AI

Date: May 16th, 2018

Link: https://ai.googleblog.com/2018/05/duplex-ai-system-for-natural-conversation.html

Discussion

1) Listen to both of the Google AI calls right at the top of this post.  Discuss how amazing it is that you really can’t tell this is a computer making the call.

2) Google is clear to make sure that people know that this is a “closed domain”.  What does that mean?  How “closed” is the call to the restaurant where the person at the restaurant does not follow what the call is about almost at all.

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Consumer Technology.

Bike-sharing bikes in Shanghai

Cycling around cities may have been pioneered by the Dutch, but a new high-tech way of hiring bicycles is bidding to bring a pedal power revolution to cities around the world.

The key innovation is the dockless hire bike. Found and unlocked with a few taps on a smartphone, they can be hired for an hour, day, or week – then locked up and left wherever the journey ends, rather than a special docking area.

These now make up the majority of the 18 million self-serve, public-use bikes around the world, in 1,608 cities.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 16th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-44066083

Discussion

1) Is this something you could introduced at your university, and what considerations would you need to make it happen?

2) What other things could be loaned using this system?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Civil Liberties, Consumer Technology, Ethical issues, Microsoft.

Microsoft is launching a $25 million initiative to use artificial intelligence to build better technology for people with disabilities.

CEO Satya Nadella announced the new “AI for Accessibility” effort as he kicked off Microsoft’s annual conference for software developers. The Build conference in Seattle is meant to foster enthusiasm for the company’s latest ventures in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, internet-connected devices and virtual reality.

Source: The Associated Press

Date: May 9th, 2018

Link: https://apnews.com/73e45d8e5bc544248ff39fac89cd8fce

Discussion

1) The CEO of Microsoft says here  “privacy is a human right.”  What does this mean for people involved with information systems and technology?

2) The CEO of Microsoft also “warned of the dangers of building new technology without ethical principles in mind”.  What does this mean?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Drones.

A who’s who of technology and aviation companies won U.S. approval to push the edge of the envelope in drone flights, from testing people’s tolerance for delivery devices hovering over their rooftops to ensuring farmers’ drones won’t hit crop dusters.

Source: Bloomberg Technology News

Date: May 9th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-09/drone-tests-from-deliveries-to-farming-unveiled-by-government

Discussion

1) What sort of company could you start that uses drones as the main way to deliver the service or product?

2) How might you run a test and what sorts of questions might you ask to see how people feel about having drones delivering goods and services in a residential neighborhood?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Google.

 

 

Google has unveiled artificial intelligence software that books appointments over the phone on behalf of users by conducting voice-based conversations on their behalf.

Chief executive Sundar Pichai said that Google Duplex would launch as an “experiment” over the coming weeks.

The facility was unveiled at the firm’s annual IO developers conference.

Experts have said that if it works it could give the firm a major advantage over rival virtual assistants.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 9th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44045424

Discussion

1) What sort of company could you build using just this technology?

2) In what ways could you expand the use of this technology?

Posted by & filed under IT and Marketing, Research, Twitter.

The data available online is staggering. More than 20% of Americans were using Twitter at the time of the study – and each Tweet is timestamped and geocoded, offering precise information on the time and place that particular terms entered conversations.

The researcher behind the study, Jack Grieve at the University of Birmingham, UK, analysed more than 980 million Tweets in total – consisting of 8.9 billion words – posted between October 2013 and November 2014, and spanning 3,075 of the 3,108 US counties.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 7th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180504-feeling-litt-the-five-hotspots-driving-english-forward

Discussion

1) What sorts of research might you be able to conduct using Twitter feeds?

2) What might be some issues or drawbacks of using Twitter feeds for research?

Posted by & filed under Women in IT, Women in Tech.

Over the last few decades, Melinda Gates’ philanthropy has taken her to all corners of the globe. But recently she’s come to focus on an issue much closer to home: a dearth of women in tech.

Source: Bloomberg

Date: May 3rd, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-03/how-melinda-gates-is-tackling-tech-s-gender-problem

Discussion

1) What is your program and business school doing to encourage women in tech?

2) What can you do to encourage and support women in tech?

Posted by & filed under Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

We are all familiar with physical, industrial robots, but what about robots that work in offices? In fact, they are already taking up posts around the world alongside their human counterparts. What opportunities does the Virtual Workforce present, and why are organisations choosing them to facilitate better service, faster growth and to react more quickly to market opportunities? This talk examines the art of the possible and how a Virtual Workforce can increase both the job satisfaction of human workers and transform the way that enterprises and global service providers deliver value. David Moss is CTO and Co-founder of Blue Prism Limited, a UK tech company formed in 2001 to pursue the dream of delivering the vision of robotics into the oce environment. David is a technologist and thought leader in the Robotic Process Automation movement and a pioneer in the creation of the Virtual Workforce concept.

Source: Blue Prism

Date: May 3rd, 2018

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SximAg9t4w

Discussion

1) Robotic Process Automation is the next step in productivity enhancement brought about by technology.  What is the key issue here about robots replacing humans?

2) Why has it taken (and continues to take) so long to get robots (automation) into the service industry whereas it has been around for decades (arguably since the late 1800s) in the industrial setting?