Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The PR department that needs an Artificial Intelligence chip

Will your PR department have its own AI chips? will it need them just to keep up?

My thinking is brought about by an article by Cade Metz  in Wired magazine today.

He writes about an AI chip for everything and identifies companies already developing such capability.

Google recently built its own AI chip, called the TPU, which is widely deployed inside the massive data centres that underpin the company’s online empire. There, thousands, of TPU’s helps with everything from identifying commands spoken into Android smartphones to choosing results on the Google search engine.

But this is just the start of a much bigger wave, says Metz.

“As CNBC revealed last week, several of the original engineers behind the Google TPU are now working to build similar chips at a stealth startup called Groq, and the big-name commercial chip makers, including Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm, are pushing in the same direction.|” Facebook too is working on an AI chip.

These new chips are very efficient and use much less power than the traditional CPU.

Now, as companies like Google and Facebook push neural networks onto phones and VR headsets—so they can eliminate the delay that comes when shuttling images to distant data centers—they need AI chips that can run on personal devices, too. “There is a lot of headroom there for even more specialised chips that are even more efficient.”

In other words, the market for AI chips is potentially enormous. That’s why so many companies are jumping into the mix.

Let's go back a bit and think about “ push neural networks onto phones and VR headsets.”  This will make AI chips more ubiquitous than mobile phones. Such chips in such volumes would be (relatively) cheap.

This would offer the prospect of Artificial Intelligence chips in everyday items such as clothes, personal items like glasses, headsets, wand-like pens and so on.

AI in all forms of communication will demand an AI response in corporate governance (as well as government and the law).

Those people who have to manage public relations (not the marketing/publicity sort), and thus the governance aspects of the job, will need some very serious AI tools to gain access to the means of relationship management mediated by the now ubiquitous AI chip.

Yes, your PR department is going to need its own AI chips.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What is 'The Media' - A job for the universities

"Much power is media generated. Historically, only certain groups could produce and publish content through media platforms due to the lack of technology. Now, anyone can produce and share content, especially within our own social networks, however small or large that may be. Verčič warns that the public relations industry must think about media relations differently—not just the paid, earned, shared, owned model—but everything generating communications today. “Mediatization” is everything. So said Dr. Dejan Verčič , Professor and Head of Centre for Marketing and Public Relations at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The game changers are staggering.

The announcement by Facebook this week that it wants to get to a point where its system can read the brain five times faster than an individual can type on a smartphone is awesome. It offers new forms of communication. It will, says Facebook, also enable other new technologies such as artificial intelligence-powered augmented reality to offer alternative insights into the authors' thoughts.

Meanwhile, Facebook is also focused on is turning the camera into a mainstream augmented reality platform.

But then, in the corner of your office is a 'virtual assistant'. These devices access a lot of information some of which is provided by the Marketing and Public Relations industies. Virtual Assistants are very chatty and are getting better at it too. Further-more, they morph into your mobile phone to give you the same service on the move. They have become in-house companions for housebound senior citizens too.

These developments and many more reflect a growing number of media channels that are now available for the PR industry to use in affecting and influencing relationships.

The problem is that such media pops up in many forms. 

The car is now the equivalent of the Daily News of yesteryear. It provides information about the car and journey, directions to take, nearest McDonalds and a vast array of entertainment. It is a platform for news and opinion as well as augmented reality adding to the driver and passenger experience.

We still have 'print media', radio and TV, the web and social media and we have the many new media. 

This means there are serious challenges for practitioners when it comes to media selection.

Lots of people are currently touting their ability to communicate one on one through social media.  Sentiment analysis and emotion tracking are also now possible. It is marketing nirvana.

But is it?

How can one identify the environment (e.g. housebound home, car, mobile phone on the bus) and its influence on the moment? What about the nature of opinion changing bots and trolls and their impact of the AI programmes that seem to offer such wonderful insights?

What are the questions we need to ask if we are going to be equipped with knowledge and capability to use the media that is needed in relationship change?

We now have to turn to the universities to offer a solution. They are beyond the capability of the individual practitioner or PR agency.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Internet of Everything is it IoEPR?

A recent Cisco study placed the value of the Internet of things as a $19 trillion opportunity. It struck me that the PR industry should be investing some of its thinking about the future into IoE too.

IoE will affect all aspects of business and, like all other sectors,  the PR profession has to find out the key things it will need to consider in this transition.

This paper examines The Internet of everything from a PR perspective and identifies where, in the short term, it will offer significant advantages to the PR sector.

We will discover that, with a new and developing set of professional skills and tools, practitioners will find new opportunities and the downside of underemployment will be avoided as a result.

We will also note that without developing such skills, there will be a chance for a significant deleterious effect.

What is the Internet of Everything?

IoE expands on the concept of the “Internet of Things” because it connects physical devices and everything else by getting them all on the network. It moves beyond being a buzzword and technology trend by connecting devices to one another and the Internet and offers higher computing power. This connection goes beyond basic Machine to Machine (M2M) communications, and it is the interconnection of devices that leads to automation and advanced “smart” applications.

(picture: http://bit.ly/1RtPNFt).

IoE works to connect more things onto the network, stretching out the edges of the network and expanding the roster of what can be connected. IoE has a major play in all industries, from retail to telecommunications to banking and Public Relations.

There is a view that IoE will also include intangibles such as values, cultures and art and artistic interpretation (i.e.semi sentient considerations e.g. is switching a light on in daylight a 'bad' thing"). Also, it will encompass descriptions of features and benefits of products and services implied by the words and actions of the client and her many cultural constituencies.

By 2018, 20 percent of the business content will be authored by machines.
Technologies (http://gtnr.it/2pCFk2l) with the ability to proactively assemble and deliver information through automated composition engines fostering a movement from human-to-machine-generated business content. Data-based and analytical information is already being turned into natural language writing using these emerging tools (Here are some examples: https://www.arria.com/, https://www.narrativescience.com/Platform, https://www.narrativescience.com/).

Such automation should be a feature of Public Relations development. PR consultancies can and should be offering these services now.

Business content, such as shareholder reports, legal documents, market reports, press releases, articles and white papers, are all candidates for automated writing tools.

These outputs can include code to make it even more attractive to IoT devices.

For the past 100 years or so, financial reporting has been paper based. Only in the last 25-30 years have reports been created electronically in a word processor and then printed or saved to an electronic format such as PDF or HTML.

But the information contained in PDF and HTML is not easily scraped by computers. Digital financial reporting, by contrast, makes much of this information readable by computers, vastly expanding the potential for automating creation and analysis of financial reports.

Such help from machines can reduce the time and, therefore, the costs of creating and consuming reports and information and improve its quality.

With machine readability computers can read the reported and "understand" it and help make sure mathematical computations are correct and intact throughout the report. They can compare reported information to mandated disclosure rules and make sure the report's creator complied with them. This is somewhat similar to how manually created disclosure checklists are used as memory joggers.

No "magic" is involved here. For example, standard syntax can make a mobile phone ring or lock or unlock devices.

Progress towards IoE will also mean that a salesperson's mobile will also provide details travel, meetings, and conversations. Such data will be matched to travel, phone conversations, perhaps even mood measurements and, of course, sales closures.

Why should PR be involved?

In short - money.

If PR is at the centre of much of this development, it stands to make a lot of money through implementation and use.

Also, much of this evolution will disenfranchise the practitioner.  Part of what is on offer will make practitioners redundant.

Much of PR that is not automated will be very mundane.

Being part of the new forms of PR will be very interesting, if not exciting!

When will it happen?

You can get an impression of the range of sensors already available from Intel (http://intel.ly/1GP8Unb). I like the ADIS16448 Accelerometer which I could put on my Ski's to prove I was jumping more than 5 metres.

Imagine the world in which everything is connected and packed with sensors.

50+ billion connected devices, loaded with a dozen or more sensors, will create a trillion-sensor ecosystem.

These devices will create what one might call a state of neo-perfect knowledge, where we'll be able to know what we want, where we want when we want.

Combined with the power of data mining and machine learning, the value that you can create and the capabilities you will have as an individual and as a business will be extraordinary.

Here are a few basic examples to get you thinking:

Retail: Beyond knowing what you purchased, stores will monitor your eye gaze, knowing what you glanced at… what you picked up and considered, and put back on the shelf. Dynamic pricing will entice you to pick it up again.

City Traffic: Cars looking for parking cause 40% of traffic in city centres. Parking sensors will tell your car where to find an open spot.

Lighting: Streetlights and house lights will only turn on when you're nearby.

Vineyards/Farming: Today IoE enables winemakers to monitor the exact condition (temperature, humidity, sun) of every vine and recommends optimal harvest times. IoE can follow details of fermentation and even assure perfect handling through distribution and sale to the consumer at the wine store.

Dynamic pricing: In the future, everything has dynamic pricing where supply and demand drivers pricing. Uber already knows when demand is high, or when I'm stuck miles from my house and can charge more as a result.

Transportation: Self-driving cars and IoE will make ALL traffic a thing of the past.

Healthcare: You will be the CEO of your own health. Wearables will be tracking your vitals constantly, allowing you and others to make better health decisions.

Banking/Insurance: Research shows that if you exercise and eat healthily, you're more likely to repay your loan. Imagine a variable interest rate (or lower insurance rate) depending on exercise patterns and eating habits?

Forests: With connected sensors placed on trees, you can make urban forests healthier and better able to withstand -- and even take advantage of -- the effects of climate change.

Office Furniture: Software and sensors embedded in office furniture are being used to improve office productivity, ergonomics and employee health.

Invisibles: Forget wearables, the next big thing is sensor-based technology that you can't see, whether they are in jewellery, attached to the skin like a bandage, or perhaps even embedded under the skin or inside the body. By 2017, 30% of wearables will be "unobtrusive to the naked eye," according to market researcher Gartner.

The Internet of Everything has a long way to go and we need to use our imaginations to see the opportunities.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Does AI have a future in charge of people?

Toni Muzi Falconi Invited us to review the opinion of Luciano Floridi in Facebook professor of philosophy and ethics of information at the University of Oxford, and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. His perspective is outlined in an essay "Should we be afraid of AI".

My response was as follows:

  • Singularity is a red herring. "Because it worked no better than kitchen paper, absorbing and being shaped by the nasty messages sent to it." is a key phrase (by Floridi) because capable and powerful AI will be aggressively used against humanity. It will be a weapon of man against man. It will absorb and be shaped by nasty people as much as nice ones. It could be a radical sect, or a nation state using it but it is certain that it will be used or corrupted as an act of war. Man's aggression to man is by far the most common threat to humanity (and much else besides). This is one of the reasons I believe that the PR industry must learn about it and be part of an axis to deny such threatening foes. Singularity in this context becomes irrelevant as an argument. We will be at war long before then and will be taming AI as a weapon of defence. Thus 'there can be no absolute AI". "We share the infosphere with digital technologies. These are ordinary artefacts that outperform us in ever more tasks, despite being no cleverer than a toaster. Their abilities are humbling and make us reevaluate human exceptionality and our special role in the Universe, which remains unique. " So, I am in Luciano Floridi's camp but for quite frightening reasons. Offer Daesh, the power of AI and it will use it for harm long before it could be sentient. Thus I suggest we prepare for the reality and not the fanciful which so many grand names suggest sentient AI might be.

I had hardly finished writing when the UK Prime Minister ordered Google, Twitter and Facebook to launch a fresh crackdown against online radicalisation in the wake of the attack on people and the Palace of Westminster in London last week. 

The PM’s spokesman said internet search and firms “must do more” to stop extremist material being posted online. Mrs May’s warning came amid a growing backlash against the world’s biggest digital firms which make billions while allegedly al­­­l­­­­owing would-be-at­tackers easy access to terror instruction man­­uals and hate videos. The reputation of such online organisation is now on the line.

There are commercial pressures too. Many companies are withdrawing advertising so not to be associated with such content.

Google, Facebook and others need sophisticated weapons to achieve this.

What then will the PR industry deploy to recover the reputational damage and the commercial disadvantage.

The answer is Artificial Intelligence. Its capability to identify the awful content is already being deployed.

AI is already being used as armament in this battle. But it can be used by unsavoury.

The soldiers in this effort will come from institutions like Bletchley Park. Many of them will be recruited into crisis management teams in PR consultancies and departments. 

In this way, the PR industry is inevitably dragged into the use and application of such Transformative Technologies.

AI will as varied and diverse as the competing factions attempting to use it. It cannot be marshalled into one amorphous capability to control humanity and the embryonic battles for the reputation of Google Twitter and Facebook show us how.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What is PR?

There is a huge debate going on in Facebook as to the nature of Public Relations. Every student and practitioner in the field should take a look. It shows that there is a great deal of research and thought that has gone into the subject. This is not a passing fashion and anyone wanting to re-define PR has to be pretty brave.

I tried in a paper some years ago and have been rewarded in the fact that my perspective is now able to move forward with the development of social and communication technologies.

The paper posits that material value is released through a process of relationship change and a public relations practice of relationship management is put forward as a management discipline that can create value when the process of relationship management acting on material tokens is deployed.

The basic requirement of PR is to deploy a capability in relationship development that will optimise the mission statement.

The mission statement will identify the organisation as a historic and present day entity and will explicate its capabilities to implement desired outcomes short and long term. Long term ambitions are required as a surety for ethical behaviours.

In future PR will be the means by which an environment is created in which the mission is delivered.

This requires that Public Relations practice has a need to identify entities and their relationship with other entities relevant to the interests of the organisation.

PR practice has a requirement to identify the drivers of relationships between the organisation and its relevant third party entities and as between such entities.

The practitioner will then need to identify the means by which entity relationships can be influenced in relationship development that will optimise the mission statement. 

That is as dry as it comes when describing what we do.

As can be envisaged, this is pretty complicated. It always was but now is more complicated because of the evolution of relationship technologies from the aeroplane to Facebook.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is already working in areas that can be used in further development of relationship management PR.

"The project aims to develop and evaluate a coherent set of methods to understand behaviour in complex information systems, such as the Internet, computational grids and computing clouds. Such large distributed systems exhibit global behaviour arising from independent decisions made by many simultaneous actors, which adapt their behaviour based on local measurements of system state. Actor adaptations shift the global system state, influencing subsequent measurements, leading to further adaptations. This continuous cycle of measurement and adaptation drives a time-varying global behaviour. For this reason, proposed changes in actor decision algorithms must be examined at large spatiotemporal scale in order to predict system behaviour. This presents a challenging problem."
This helps us to take the idea of relationship PR much further and also shows that there is technological disciple that will be at the core of the debate over the nature of public relations, of which, more later.