Thursday, 9 August 2018

The impact of "bad" commuting on our mental health - time for a new approach?

I have been wondering for a while if I'm part of the last generation of commuters... Those that are part of that mad rush to get up, dash to the station only to find out that the train you want is cancelled... Then the tube has a signal failure and you find yourself as I do now sat on a central line train in a tunnel that has been going no where for half an hour on one of the hottest days of the year. Looking to my watch I see I've now missed my 9 o'clock meeting and am wondering if I will make it in to the office in time for my 10 o'clock...

The stress, the tiredness, the long days and the loss of evenings - it all adds up to quite poor mental health... It can't be that long now until we all collectively say "enough"...?

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Windows 10 - 3 years on, going strong? Is it the same?

On the 1st August 2015, I wrote a blog post called "Welcome to Windows 10 - the last version ever?" and 3 years on it seems to be partially true...!

Why? Well, Microsoft have followed a two releases a year cycle ever since and each arguably release has been a new version - we have had: The catchy titled 1511 edition after 4 months, then the Anniversary edition after a year; the Creators Update in April 2017, followed by the Fall (its Autumn!) Update in October 2017 and now we have just had the April update in, err, April 2018...

So, is it the same version as the one I installed on release day back in 2015? What is it really like 3 years on...?

Friday, 27 July 2018

Can the 4th Industrial Revolution solve our world of conflicts?

infographic on industrial revolutions
Today we live in a world of contradictions, we have people dying of obesity and yet also of hunger; we have those who have a *lot* and those that have none; there are diseases that kill in some parts and are eradicated in others. To quote Voltaire (and some also say Spiderman), "with great power comes great responsibility", the 4th Industrial Revolution of "Digital Intelligence" creates great new powers through harnessing artificial intelligence - can we use these new powers responsibly?

Friday, 20 July 2018

"Doveryai, no proveryai" or "trust, but verify" is just as relevant today?

"Doveryai, no proveryai" is a Russian proverb meaning "trust, but verify" and was a phrase adopted by Ronald Regan in the 1980's when negotiating with the Soviet Union on nuclear weapons. Its a phrase that is also one of the foundations behind crypto-currencies / blockchain's where every node needs to verify data received to ensure security.

Is it ("Trust, but verify") still relevant today? Well in today's technology world Open Source software and code libraries are taken on "trust" that they work, so why do we seem to "distrust" code created by our own colleagues? What's the difference really...?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

How do you emulate real world hyper-scale load?

And relax; the World Cup is over - congratulations to France on their win – and a huge well done to the England team too. However, the World Cup isn’t just about setting records on the pitch, with the changing ways we consume content the BBC and ITV have been setting records off the pitch for the number of online coverage.

BBC Sport pictureLive match streaming requests at the BBC increased from a total of 15.9m for Brazil 2014 to 56.3m this year (including those watching after matches the grand total of streams was 66.m); and visitors to the World Cup content on the BBC Sport website went up from 32.3m UK unique browsers in 2014 to 49.2m this year. If the same growth of online viewers happens again for 2022 then we could be looking at maybe 200m total streams.

Friday, 6 July 2018

The journey from machine learning to true artificial intelligence

In my view we are around half way along the seven level journey from ML to AI and the true potential this can offer to us is still to come. If you listen to the marketeers the world is already full of AI systems, and this is only a half truth. There are now countless machine learning systems out there but real AI systems are a long way off. The difficulties to overcome are real but there are a lot of people working to solve this.

I've been very interested in machine learning and artificial intelligence for nearly 20 years. In fact, my PhD was on this very topic and in a paper written as part of my PhD studies I wrote, back in August 2000, about the potential benefits these will have for humanity - my particular focus was on creating "Next Generation Intelligent Agents" and using these to "help both abled-bodied and disabled people interact with each other across the Internet" where my focus was on how to "advance the field through exploiting natural language processing techniques" with a direction of travel "to develop and integrate the natural language parser part of the software into a new computer operating system and perhaps one day enabling a computer to respond to voice commands making the mouse and keyboard a thing of the past." Well, that world is (finally in my view) very nearly here as covered in last week's post "Voice - its beginning to be everywhere".

This week at the BBC within Platform Engineering I chaired a fantastic discussion on the journey we are on and what comes next after Voice on our journey to true Artificial Intelligence. I've mentioned this journey several times now - about time I explain what mean by it... Basically there are seven fairly distinct levels at which sets of systems can be grouped together each building on the last as we transition from systems that are basic rules based machine learning systems to the potential of hive minds and true artificial intelligence.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Voice - its beginning to be everywhere

Voice. And by Voice I mean the advent of a Voice based UI for systems is beginning to be everywhere. Since exploding onto the scenes in 2006 based on mobile phones its grown almost exponentially. Looking at its latest incarnation - the smart speaker (Amazon Alexia and Google Home are examples) recent estimates show around 50 million American’s have access to one of these in their home, although true sales figures are a little hard to come by but various estimates indicate that around 34 million smart speakers were sold in 2017 and we are heading for a further 57 million this year...!

OK its accepted that some homes will have more than one (we for example have three) but, there is probably significantly over 100 million smart speaker enabled homes out there on a global basis and the number is only going to continue to increase dramatically going forwards. Amazon Echo as first to market is comfortably in first place with around 70% market share. A bit more research to share with you – around two thirds of smart speaker owners interact with their speaker on a daily basis and three in four on a weekly basis.

This is now taking us down the path to where smart voice initiated conversations can become the default interaction point which is a significant shift from where we have been over just the last couple of years. So what does this mean for us, businesses and their customers?