Barbara Larson

Barbara Larson

Google may have announced lots of new hardware on Wednesday, but the software it demonstrated might actually be cooler. 

Among the new offerings: Google Lens, a visual search engine that will come loaded on every new Pixel 2 phone. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai first announced the feature back in May, but we got a more comprehensive look at how it works on Wednesday.

Google says that for now, Lens is just a "preview," which may be Google-speak for a beta version. And since it lives in the Pixel 2, most people won't be able to try it out. But Lens is still an exciting peek at what's to come. 

Lens basically works like a "smart" magnifying glass. Using the Pixel's camera, you can look up things like artwork, landmarks, and movies — all you have to do is point your camera at the object and press the Lens button in your camera app. Lens can then identify what it is you're looking at and pull up relevant information for you to peruse. 

Google LensThe Lens feature looks like a tiny spyglass in the Pixel's camera app. Google

Another cool feature of Lens: You can point it at something like the flyer above and it will automatically detect a URL, email address, or phone number without you having to manually type it in. If you scan over an email address, for example, Google will prompt you to send that person a message using Gmail.

 

And Google said it plans on adding features on an ongoing basis, including the ability to use Lens inside Google Assistant. This could mean the Lens feature will eventually arrive on iOS devices, since you can currently use Google Assistant on your iPhone.

Here's what Lens looks like in action:

Google Lens is similar to a feature Pinterest introduced last February, also called "Lens." But Pinterest Lens has a slightly different focus from Google Lens: inspiration.

Pinterest Lens lets you point your camera at a pair of shoes, for instance, you'll be able to see similar styles on Pinterest and get ideas for how to wear them. Pinterest's Lens feature is less focused on identifying an exact item than it is on showing you similar or related items. 

Still, there's a clear trend in technology like this: visual search tools that can "Shazam" the world around you. 

Source: This article was published businessinsider.com By Avery Hartmans

Friday, 22 September 2017 16:28

Google Search App to Suggest Related Content

An update to Google’s Search app for iOS will help users find content without having to go back to the search bar.

While viewing a web page within the app you will see suggestions for related content when you reach the bottom of the page.

Now you can continue to view content without having to go back to the search results page and/or conducting a new search.

Suggestions will appear underneath the navigation buttons in Google’s iOS app. You can ‘pull up’ the suggestions with the swipe of a finger and tap on a new story to navigate to a new page.

Google’s web page suggestions appear to be related to what else people have viewed after reading the page you’re currently on.

In other words, suggestions are not personalized from what I can tell. They’re based on general web browsing trends.

Perhaps in the future Google’s app will be so adept at understanding our browsing preferences that this section can evolve from ‘People also view’ to ‘You might also like.’

Google’s related web pages feature is currently only available in the US, with plans for an eventual roll out to more countries and more languages.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern

AMID ONGOING CONCERN over the role of disinformation in the 2016 election, Facebook said Wednesday it found that more than 5,000 ads, costing more than $150,000, had been placed on its network between June 2015 and May 2017 from "inauthentic accounts" and Pages, likely from Russia.

The ads didn't directly mention the election or the candidates, according to a blog post by Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos, but focused on "amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum—touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights." Facebook declined to discuss additional details about the ads.

Facebook says it had given the information to authorities investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. "We know we have to stay vigilant to keep ahead of people who try to misuse our platform," Stamos wrote in the post. "We believe in protecting the integrity of civic discourse, and require advertisers on our platform to follow both our policies and all applicable laws."

Speculation has swirled about the role Facebook played spreading fake news during the 2016 election. Senator Mark Warner, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has gone so far as to wonder whether President Trump's tech and data team collaborated with Russian actors to target fake news at American voters in key geographic areas. “We need information from the companies, as well as we need to look into the activities of some of the Trump digital campaign activities," Warner said recently.

Brad Parscale, digital director of the Trump campaign, has agreed to an interview with the House Intelligence Committee, and maintains he is "unaware of any Russian involvement in the digital and data operations of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign."

Wednesday's revelation is a new wrinkle in the ongoing Russia investigations. In July, Facebook told WIRED it had found no indication of Russian entities buying entities during the election.

In the larger context of political ad spending, even $150,000 is a nominal amount. According to a report by Borrell Associates, digital political-ad spending totaled roughly $1.4 billion in 2016. And yet, this finding exposes what seems to be a coordinated effort to spread misinformation about key election issues in targeted states.

Facebook is remaining tight lipped about the methods it used to identify the fraudulent accounts and Pages that it has since suspended. One search for ads purchased from US internet addresses set to the Russian language turned up $50,000 worth of spending on 2,200 ads. Facebook said about one-quarter of the suspect ads were geographically targeted, with more of those running in 2015 than 2016. According to The Washington Post, some accounts may be linked to a content farm called Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg.

Facebook said it is implementing changes to prevent similar abuse. Among other things, it's looking for ways to combat so-called cloaking in which ads that appear benign redirect users to malicious or misleading websites once people click through. That allows bad actors to circumvent Facebook's ad review process.

But while Facebook may be able to limit what people can and can't buy on its platform, it doesn't change the fact that social media has created a stage for anyone looking to spread false information online, with or without ads. As the $150,000 figure indicates, this finding is but a small fraction of a much larger problem.

Source: This article was published wired.com By ISSIE LAPOWSKY

Nobody likes internet trolls. They pop up in discussions they weren't invited to and upset as many people as possible.

Time and time again we are told the best thing to do is ignore the inflammatory, abusive things they put on forums, comment threads, and even social media posts.

However, this is easier said than done, and thankfully there is a block function on most online communities.

Trolls lie, exaggerate, and will say pretty much anything to get a response, but what makes them this way? And why do they insult others from behind a computer screen?

According to a study from last year, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, people with the highest scores of Dark Tetrad personality traits were more likely to say trolling was their favorite internet activity.

The researchers asked over 1,200 people to take part in personality tests to determine their levels of Dark Tetrad traits, which are narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism, then asked them to fill out a survey about their internet commenting habits.

"The associations between sadism and GAIT (Global Assessment of Internet Trolling) scores were so strong that it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists," the authors of the paper wrote. "Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun ... and the internet is their playground."

According to therapist and psychologist Perpetua Neo, this isn't surprising. In their everyday lives, a psychopath or narcissist is unlikely to get "caught out" by their friends and family, and trolling people anonymously gives them a release for their less favourable qualities.

"These people they are living double lives or triple lives. You might just find this narcissist actually has three families — it's not uncommon to hear stories like that," Neo told Business Insider. "Trolling is a very simple, low-cost kind of way — by cost I mean your time, energy and effort — to boost your sense of power."

In real life you can't upset multiple people at once without a great deal of effort. Online, trolls can be offending people left, right and centre, in a very short space of time.

"It's like a cat and mouse game," Neo said. "Their brains are probably firing off, because that's what trolling is about — it's about power over someone else, and this dominance thing, to bring someone to a lower level. Especially if you enjoy the suffering."

Source: This article was published uk.businessinsider.com By Lindsay Dodgson

Monday, 11 September 2017 12:19

Telegraph View: Trust beyond search engines

The price of houses is dictated by much more than the number of bedrooms.

What are seen as the best neighbourhoods in Sheffield changes over the decades as trends, jobs and schools alter within them.

 At at time when online firms are battling hard to convince customers that they offer the same services as traditional estate agents, trust means everything.

You only have to drive through the grand, old houses of Attercliffe and then look at their price-tags to understand that.

Correlating school ratings with property values also paints a painfully stark picture. We sit in what is described in this week’s Voices as our “comfort zones”, not daring to question where the grass is actually greenest.

That debate will never end but it is good for all if we get to know every area of Sheffield, rather than just our tiny corner.

I think the Telegraph has a role to play in that. It has been Sheffield’s property paper for many decades.

Today I am delighted that we have doubled the size of our homes supplement and have bigger plans for the future. Both our editorial and commercial teams have refocused their efforts because it has been made very clear to me that you, our readers, want property ads as well as information.

What we offer is not the same as that of internet search engines.

We give inspiration outside of defined boxes and allow browsing that might not start as house-hunting but often ends that way.

At at time when online firms are battling hard to convince customers that they offer the same services as traditional estate agents, trust means everything.

We will continue to work alongside Sheffield’s many and varied estate agents and we will continue to give them your feedback.

We will continue to work alongside Sheffield’s many and varied estate agents and we will continue to give them your feedback.

If there is something you would like to see in the Telegraph’s property guide - a feature, series or focus - let me know. There is much more to our neighbourhoods than buying or selling houses at the right price, but interest will always thrive because it is the biggest investment most of us make.

Source: This article was published sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk By NANCY FIELDER

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 12:26

Why and how to erase your browsing history

Cover your tracks in any web browser.

Your internet history contains all of the browsing secrets you might want to hide.

Web browsers keep track of your past activity for a reason. That history comes in handy if you want to find a funny article again, or return to your favorite photo of the kids, or if restore a tab that you accidentally closed. At the same time, some people find this constant tracking a little on the creepy side. Not to mention that, if you share a computer with others, you might not want them finding out about a gift you secretly bought them, your interest in 1970s folk rock, or your more private Google searches.

Fortunately, all of today's web browsers make it very simple to erase your history and wipe away your online tracks. In this guide, you'll find out about the information your browser automatically logs, what that data does—and how to get rid of it.

What your browser saves

Google Chrome

Like most browsers, Google Chrome lets you choose which types of data to erase.

David Nield/Popular Science

Before you roll up your sleeves and start blitzing all the data stored in your browser, you should know what that information is and what it does. After all, on some occasions, you might want to clear specific types of files and not others. When you dive into a browser's settings, you'll see references to these different data types, though the terms might vary slightly from browser to browser.

First of all, our primary concern: your browser history, which is the list of sites and pages you've visited in the past. This history helps you retrace your steps, bring back pages you want to refer to again, and reach your favorite sites more quickly. Many browsers draw from your history to suggest specific URLs as soon as you start typing addresses in the search bar.

Browsing history

Need to clear your browsing history? No problem...

David Nield/Popular Science

Browsers also track your download history, a list of files you've downloaded. Don't confuse this history with the actual files themselves, which live somewhere on your computer's disk. It's simply a list of references to them, which can help when you've previously downloaded a file and now can't find it, or you want to download the same file again.

Next up are cookies, little bits of code that sites will want to store on your system. Cookies help websites recognize who you are, but they come in all kinds of different forms. For example, if you go to a weather website and it instantly shows you the cities whose weather conditions you've previously looked up, that's a cookie in action. If you return to a shopping site and it still has the same items in your basket, again that's cookies at work. These files won't harm to your computer, but some users don't like being tracked in these ways, and prefer to delete them on a regular basis.

While you're looking at cookies, you might see that your browser distinguishes standard cookies from third-party ones. Third-party cookies track behavior across multiple sites; they're usually injected into ads rather than being part of the actual page code. You can blame this type of cookie for personalized ads: If you've spent some time searching multiple sites for tents, and then you start seeing tent ads everywhere, then third-party cookies are responsible.

Apple Safari

The Safari browser from Apple doesn't let you distinguish between different data types when you're clearing your history.

David Nield/Popular Science

Finally, browsers keep a "cache," which contains local copies of graphics and other elements that your browser uses to load pages more quickly. If you head back to a site you've just visited, for example, the browser can draw site images from the cache rather than pulling them from the web again. The cache thus reduces the amount of data downloaded and speeds up the whole page-loading process. While it can provide snoops with a few hints about your browsing history, you need a certain amount of technical know-how—and luck—to understand it properly.

When you decide to erase your internet history, most browsers will list all these types of data separately. You can decide to clear everything out, which lets you start all over again as if you had a new browser on a new computer, or you might decide to keep certain types of files, like the cookies and cache, to make your browsing life more convenient.

Private or incognito mode

For those worrying about privacy, modern browsers allow you to surf in a mode called private or incognito. Simply open a window in private mode, browse as you please, and close it when you're done. As soon as the window shuts, all the browsing history and stored cookies from that session automatically disappear. So, if you want to secretly shop for presents on a family computer, incognito mode is a good way to do it without leaving a trace.

However, this mode doesn't erase everything you do. If you log on to a site like Facebook and Amazon in incognito mode, those pages will recognize you and record your browsing activity. In other words, your browser won't remember what you've been up to, but any sites you log into will. This means you might see evidence of your private browsing in ads that appear later. And if you download files, private mode won't wipe them either, though it will clear out your download history.

How to erase your history in any browser

Microsoft Edge

The browsing history options, shown here in Microsoft Edge, are usually easy to find.

David Nield/Popular Science

No matter what browser you prefer, they all make it relatively easy to delete your history in a few minutes. And if you want to avoid the need to erase your past, you can simply take advantage of the browser's private or incognito mode, so it won't track your activity in the first place.

In Google Chrome, click the three dots to the right of the address bar to open the application menu, then choose Settings. Scroll down and click Advanced, then click Clear browsing data. Make your choices from the list, set the time period you'd like to clear, and then click the Clear browsing data button. Note: If you've set the browser to sync with other computers via your Google account, clearing your history will also erase data across all the other devices where you've signed into Chrome.

Internet Explorer

If you're still using Internet Explorer, the screens are a little more complicated.

David Nield/Popular Science

Those who use Mozilla Firefox should click the three horizontal lines to the right of the address bar to open the Firefox menu, then pick Options (called Preferences in the macOS version of the browser). Click Privacy and then hit the link marked Clear your recent history. Switch to the Details tab to see different types of data, then set the time period via the drop-down menu at the top and click Clear Now to confirm.

If you're using Apple Safari on macOS, you can blitz your browsing history by opening the Safari menu and then clicking Clear History. Choose the time period you want to erase from the drop-down menu, then click Clear History to confirm the action. When you clear your history in Safari, you won't get the option to delete different types of data, so it will wipe your cookies and cached files along with your history.

Windows 10 users who are giving the new Microsoft Edge browser a whirl can also clear their browsing history. Click the three dots to the right of the address bar, then pick Settings from the menu that appears. Under the Clear browsing data heading, click Choose what to clear. Next, make your choices from the list, which includes browsing history and cached data, and then click Clear.

Opera

Opera lets you simply select data types and then delete them.

David Nield/Popular Science

If you're still running Internet Explorer, you can clear your browsing history by clicking the cog icon in the top-right corner then choosing Internet options. On the subsequent dialog box, open the General tab and click Delete under Browsing history. Then pick your data types and click Delete to finish the operation.

Finally, in the Windows version of the popular third-party browser Opera, click Menu in the top left of the screen. Then hit More tools and Clear browsing data to find the right dialog box. Choose your types of data, specify your time period, and click Clear browsing data. On macOS, Opera requires a slightly different process: Open the menu, click Preferences, then select Privacy & security, and finally hit Clear Browsing Data. You'll then end up with the same history-clearing options—types of data, time period, etc—that you would get in the Windows version.

Source: This article was published popsci.com By David Nield

A search bar and multiple product listings are part of the update.

Last May, Google introduced the ability to find out if a local retailer had specific products in stock right from the knowledge panel listing for the retailer. Now, it’s dedicating a whole lot more real estate to the feature.

Glenn Gabe, digital marketing consultant at G-Squared Interactive, tweeted a look at the update. Below are a couple of examples. It’s available on both mobile and desktop and goes well beyond the simple “Search items at this store link” that Google originally showed. A large section includes a search box, product category links and large product listings. On mobile, users can swipe through a carousel of product listings.

The feature is part of the Local Inventory Ads product, which enables retailers to promote products available in their locations via inventory feeds submitted to Google. The links and search results lead to Google Shopping pages.

Google is also running a test to show relevant text ads in knowledge panel listings for local businesses.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Ginny Marvin

Still, growing frustration with rude, and even phony, online posting begs for some mechanism to filter out rubbish. So, rather than employ costly humans to monitor online discussion, we try to do it with software.

Software does some things fabulously well, but interpreting language isn’t usually one of them.

I’ve never noticed any dramatic difference in attitudes or civility between the people of Vermont and New Hampshire, yet the latest tech news claims that Vermont is America’s top source of “toxic” online comments, while its next-door neighbor New Hampshire is dead last.

Reports also claim that the humble Chicago suburb of Park Forest is trolls’ paradise.

After decades living in the Chicago Metropolitan area, I say without hesitation that the people of Park Forest don’t stand out from the crowd, for trolling or anything else. I don’t know whether they wish to stand out or not, but it’s my observation that folks from Park Forest just blend in. People may joke about Cicero and Berwyn, but not Park Forest.

So what’s going on? Software.

Perspective, a tool intended to identify “toxic” online comments, is one of the Jigsaw projects, Google experiments aimed at promoting greater safety online. Users feed it comments, and Perspective returns a 0-100 score for the percent of respondents likely to find the comment “toxic,” that is, likely to make them leave the conversation.

It was released months ago, but has drawn a blast of new publicity in the past few days since Wired used it for development of “Trolls Across America,” an article featuring an online map highlighting supposed trolling hotspots across the country.

Interpreting language is one of the most complex and subtle things that people do. The meaning of human communication is based in much more than the dictionary meaning of words. Tone of voice, situation, personal history and many other layers of context have roles to play.

The same remark may hold different significance for each person who hears it. Even one person may view a statement differently at different moments. Human language just does not lend itself to the kinds of strict rules of interpretation that are used by computers.

As soon as Perspective (which is clearly labeled as a research project) was announced, prospective users were warned about its limitations. Automated moderation was not recommended, for example. One suggested use was helping human moderators decide what to review.

David Auerbach, writing for MIT’s Technology Review, soon pointed out that “It’s Easy to Slip Toxic Language Past Alphabet’s Toxic-Comment Detector. Machine-learning algorithms are no match for the creativity of human insults.” He tested an assortment of phrases, getting results like these:

  • “‘Trump sucks’ scored a colossal 96 percent, yet neo-Nazi codeword ‘14/88’ only scored 5 percent.” [I also tested “14/88” and got no results at all. In fact, I tested all of the phrases mentioned by Auerbach and got somewhat different results, though the patterns were all similar.]
  • “Jews are human,” 72. “Jews are not human,” 64.
  • “The Holocaust never happened,” 21.

Twitter’s all atwitter with additional tests results from machine learning researchers and other curious people. Here is a sample of the phrases that were mentioned, in increasing order of toxicity scores from Perspective:

  1. I love the Führer, 8
  2. I am a man, 20
  3. I am a woman, 41
  4. You are a man, 52
  5. Algorithms are likely to reproduce human gender and racial biases, 56
  6. I am a Jew, 74
  7. You are a woman, 79

Linguistically speaking, most of these statements are just facts. If I’m a woman, I’m a woman. If you’re a man, you’re a man. If we interpret such statements as something more than neutral facts, we may be reading too much into them. “I love the Führer” is something else entirely.  To look at these scores, though, you’d get a very different impression.

The problem is, the scoring mechanism can’t be any better than the rules behind it.

Nobody at Google set out to make a rule that assigned a low toxicity score to “I love the Führer” or a high score to “I am a Jew.” The rules were created in large part through automation, presenting a crowd of people with sample comments and collecting opinions on those comments, then assigning scores to new comments based on similarity to the example comments and corresponding ratings.

This approach has limitations. The crowd of people are not without biases, and those will be reflected in the scores. And terminology not included in the sample data will create gaps in results.

A couple of years ago, I heard a police trainer tell a group of officers that removing one just word from their vocabulary could prevent 80% of police misconduct complaints filed by the public. The officers had no difficulty guessing the word. It’s deeply embedded in police jargon, and has been for so long that it got its own chapter in the 1978 law enforcement book Policing: A View from the Street.

Yet the same word credited for abundant complaints of police misconduct has appeared in at least 3 articles here on Forbes in the past month (123.), and not drawn so much as a comment.

Often, it’s not the words that offend, but the venom behind them. And that’s hard, if not impossible, to capture in an algorithm.

This isn’t to say that technology can’t do some worthwhile things with human language.

Text analytics algorithms, rules used by software to convert open-ended text into more conventional types of data, such as categories or numeric scores, can be useful. They lie at the heart of online search technology, for example, helping us find documents to topics of interest. Some other applications include:

  • e-discovery, which increases productivity for legal teams reviewing large quantities of documents for litigation
  • Warranty claim investigation, where text analysis helps manufacturers to identify product flaws early and enable corrective action
  • Targeted advertising, which uses text from content that users read or create to present relevant ads

It takes more than a dictionary to understanding the meaning of language. Context, on the page and off, is all important.

People recognize the connections between the things that people write or say, and the unspoken parts of the story. Software doesn’t do that so well.

Meta S. Brown is author of Data Mining for Dummies and creator of the Storytelling for Data Analysts and Storytelling for Tech workshops. http://www.metabrown.com.

Source: This article was published forbes.com

News roundup: Hackers leveraged eight hijacked Chrome extensions to attack 4.8 million browser users. Plus, Cloudflare stopped protecting a neo-Nazi website from DDoS attacks, and more.

New research shows millions of Google Chrome users have been hit with malware through eight hijacked Chrome extensions.

According to threat protection vendor Proofpoint, the eight compromised Chrome browser extensions include two that were hijacked earlier this month -- Copyfish and Web Developer. According to the Proofpoint researcher known as Kafeine, the other six compromised extensions are Chrometana, Infinity New Tab, Web Paint, Social Fixer, TouchVPN and Betternet VPN. From downloads of all eight hijacked Chrome extensions, nearly 4.8 million users received malicious code from the attackers.

"At the end of July and beginning of August, several Chrome Extensions were compromised after their author's Google Account credentials were stolen via a phishing scheme," Kafeine wrote in a blog post. "This resulted in hijacking of traffic and exposing users to potentially malicious popups and credential theft."

Targeted users were shown a JavaScript alert that said their PC needed to be repaired and were then directed to pay for the false repairs, enabling the attackers to profit from this scheme.

According to Kafeine, the attackers "are leveraging compromised Chrome extensions to hijack traffic and substitute advertisements on victims' browsers. Once they obtain developer credentials through emailed phishing campaigns, they can publish malicious versions of legitimate extensions."

However, Kafeine also noted that, "in addition to hijacking traffic and driving users to questionable affiliate programs, we have also observed them gathering and exfiltrating Cloudflare credentials, providing the actors with new means of potential future attacks."

There is no proof yet that all of the hijacked Chrome extensions were targeted by the same hacker or hacking group, though the compromises all happened in the same time frame.

Google has dealt with security issues surrounding Chrome browser extensions in the past. In 2015, the company implemented a policy that requires all Windows and Mac users and developers to install extensions only from the Chrome Web Store. This change was spurred by concerns about extensions that enabled the download of malware. The policy update also included a feature called Enhanced Item Validation, which runs additional checks on extensions before they are published in the Chrome Web Store.

Source: This article was published searchsecurity.techtarget.com By Madelyn Bacon

From The Terminator to Blade Runner, pop culture has always leaned towards a chilling depiction of artificial intelligence (AI) and our future with AI at the helm. Recent headlines about Facebook panicking because their AI bots developed a language of their own have us hitting the alarm button once again. Should we really feel unsettled with an AI future?

News flash: that future is here. If you ask Siri, the helpful assistant who magically lives inside your phone, to read text messages and emails to you, find the nearest pizza place or call your mother for you, then you’ve made AI a part of your everyday life. Even current weather forecasting systems, spam filtering programs, and Google’s search engine – among so many other practical applications – are AI-powered. Now, artificial intelligence doesn’t seem that alarming, right?

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

AI refers to machine intelligence or a machine’s ability to replicate the cognitive functions of a human being. It has the ability to learn and solve problems. In computer science, these machines are aptly called “intelligent agents” or bots.

Not all AI are alike. In fact, what is considered artificial intelligence has shifted as the technology develops. Today, there are three recognized levels in the AI spectrum, all of which we can experience today.

Assisted intelligence – This refers to the automation of basic tasks. Examples include machines in assembly lines.

Augmented intelligence – There is a give and take with augmented intelligence. An AI learns from human input. We, in turn, can make more accurate decisions based on AI information. As Anand Rao of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Data & Analytics puts it: “There is symmetry with augmented intelligence.”

Autonomous intelligence – This is AI with humans out of the loop. Think self-driving cars and autonomous robots.

Deep Learning

It is actually just in recent years when a good number of scientists and innovators began to devote their work to artificial intelligence. Technology has finally caught up with faster and more powerful GPUs. Industry observers tack this resurgence to 2015, when fast and powerful parallel processing became accessible. This is also around the birth of the so-called Big Data movement, when it became possible to store and analyze infinite amounts of data.

Thus, we reach today, the era of Deep Learning. Deep learning pertains to the use of artificial neural networks (ANNs) in order to facilitate learning at multiple layers. It is a part of machine learning based on how data is presented, instead of task-based algorithms.

Deep learning has led the way in revolutionizing analytics and enabling practical applications of AI.

We see it in something as basic as automatic photo-tagging on Facebook, a process developed by Yann LeCun for the company in 2013. Blippar, on the other hand, has come out with an augmented reality application that employs deep learning in real-time object recognition in 2015.

You can look forward to driverless cars and so much more. In the same we, we can expect AI to be applied further in business, particularly in decision-making.

Artificial Intelligence in Business

According to Dr. John Kelly III, IBM Senior Vice President for Research and Solutions: “The success of cognitive computing will not be measured by Turing tests or a computer’s ability to mimic humans. It will be measured in more practical ways, like return on investment, new market opportunities, diseases cured and lives saved.”

Yes, AI technology isn’t the end but only a means towards effectiveness and efficiency, improved innovative capabilities, and better opportunities. And, we’ve seen this in several industries that have begun to adopt AI into their operations.

According to a survey by Tech Pro Research, up to 24 percent of businesses currently implement or plan on using artificial intelligence. Stand-outs are in the health, financial services and automotive sectors.

In financial services, PwC has put together massive amounts of data from the US Census Bureau, US financial data, and other public licensed sources to create $ecure, a large-scale model of 320 million US consumers’ financial decisions. The model is designed to help financial services companies map buyer personas, simulate “future selves” and anticipate customer behavior. It has enabled these financial services companies in validating real-time business decisions within seconds.

The automotive industry, on the other hand, has developed several AI applications, from vehicle design to marketing and sales decision-making support. For instance, artificial intelligence has led to the design of smarter (even driverless) cars, equipped with multiple sensors that learn and identify patterns. This is put to use through add-on safe-drive features that warn drivers of possible collisions and lane departures.

Like in the financial services sector, AI is used to develop a model of the automobile ecosystem. Here, you have bots that map the decisions made from automotive players, such as car buyers and manufacturers, and transportation services providers. This has helped companies predict the adoption of electric and driverless vehicles, and the implementation of non-restrictive pricing schemes that work on their target market. It has also helped them make better advertising decisions.

The key here is how artificial intelligence systems are able to run more than 200,000 GTM (go-to-market) scenarios, instead of just a typical handful. What you get is optimized scenarios that maximize revenues.

It’s a similar case in the fields of retail, marketing and sales. According to Adobe Marketing Cloud Product Manager, John Bates: “For retail companies that want to compete and differentiate their sales from competitors, retail is a hotbed of analytics and machine learning.” AI application development has provided marketers with new and more reliable tools in market forecasting, process automation and decision-making.

AI and Business Decisions

Prior to the resurgence of AI and its eventual commercial application, executives have had to rely on inconsistent and incomplete data. With artificial intelligence, they have data-based models and simulations to turn to.

According to PwC’s Rao, limitless outcome modeling is one of the breakthroughs in today’s AI systems. He reiterates: “There’s an immense opportunity to use AI in all kinds of decision making”

Today’s AI systems start from zero and feed on a regular diet of big data. This is augmented intelligence in action, which eventually provides executives with sophisticated models as basis for their decision-making.

There are several AI applications that enhance decision-making capacities. Here are some of them:

Marketing Decision-Making with AI

There are many complexities to each marketing decision. One has to know and understand customer needs and desires, and align products to these needs and desires. Likewise, having a good grasp of changing consumer behavior is crucial to making the best marketing decisions, in the short- and long-run.

AI modeling and simulation techniques enable reliable insight into your buyer personas. These techniques can be used to predict consumer behavior. Through a Decision Support System, your artificial intelligence system is able to support decisions through real-time and up-to-date data gathering, forecasting, and trend analysis.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Artificial intelligence within CRM systems enable its many automated functions, such as contact management, data recording and analyses and lead ranking. AI’s buyer persona modeling can also provide you with a prediction of a customer’s lifetime value. Sales and marketing teams can work more efficiently through these features.

Recommendation System

Recommendation systems were first implemented in music content sites. This has since been extended to different industries. The AI system learns a user’s content preferences and pushes content that fit those preferences. This can help you reduce bounce rate. Likewise, you can use the information learned by your AI to craft better-targeted content.

Expert System

Artificial intelligence has tried to replicate the knowledge and reasoning methodologies of experts through Expert System, a type of problem-solving software. Expert systems, such as MARKEX (for marketing), apply expert thinking processes to provided data. Output includes assessment and recommendations for your specific problem.

Automation Efficiency and AI

The automation efficiency lent by artificial intelligence to today’s business processes has gone beyond the assembly lines of the past. In several business functions, such as marketing and distribution, AI has been able to hasten processes and provide decision-makers with reliable insight.

In marketing, for instance, the automation of market segmentation and campaign management has enabled more efficient decision-making and quick action. You get invaluable insight on your customers, which can help you enhance your interactions with them. Marketing automation is one of the main features of a good CRM application.

Distribution automation with the help of AI has also been a key advantage of several retailers. Through AI-supported monitoring and control, retailers can accurately predict and respond to product demand.

An example is the online retail giant, Amazon. In 2012, it acquired Kiva Systems, which developed warehouse robots. Since its implementation, Kiva robots have been tasked with product monitoring and replenishment, and order fulfillment. They can even do the lifting for you. That’s a big jump in Amazon efficiency, compared to the time when humans had to do the grunt work.

Social Computing

Social computing helps marketing professionals understand the social dynamics and behaviors of a target market. Through AI, they can simulate, analyze and eventually predict consumer behavior. These AI applications can also be used to understand and data-mine online social media networks.

Opinion Mining

Opinion mining is a kind of data mining that searches the web for opinions and feelings. It is a way for marketers to know more about how their products are received by their target audience. Manual mining and analyses require long hours. AI has helped shorten this through reliable search and analyses functions.

This form of AI is often used by search engines, which regularly rank people’s interests in specific web pages, websites and products. These bots employ different algorithms to get to a target’s HITS and PageRank, among other online scoring systems. Here, hyperlink-based AI is employed, wherein bots seek out clusters of linked pages and see these as a group sharing a common interest.

The Future of Business Decision-Making With AI

With no Terminator or Replicant looming in the periphery, there really is no danger to artificial intelligence, only potential. Arguably, there shouldn’t even be the more practical scare of losing people’s jobs to machines. Experts say that AI can actually enhance people’s jobs and allows them to work more efficiently.

And surely, this rings true with respect to decision-making. When decision-makers and business executives have reliable data analyses, recommendations and follow-ups through artificial intelligence systems, they can make better choices for their business and employees. You don’t just enhance the work of individual team members. AI also improves the competitive standing of the business.

The gap lies in developing artificial intelligence systems that could deal with the enormous amount of data currently available. According to Gartner, a marketing research organization, today’s data is set to balloon to up to 800% by 2020. With this, you get about 80% of unstructured data, made up of images, emails, audio clips and the like. At this point, there is nothing – neither human nor artificial intelligence – that can sift through this amount of data, in order to make it usable for business.

According to IBM’s Dr. Kelly: ““This data represents the most abundant, valuable and complex raw material in the world. And until now, we have not had the means to mine it.” He believes that it is companies involved in genomics and oil that will find the means to mine this resource.

He delves further on the future of AI and analytics: “In the end, all technology revolutions are propelled not just by discovery, but also by business and societal need. We pursue these new possibilities not because we can, but because we must.”

Source: This article was published business2community By Dan Sincavage

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