Posts Tagged “artificial intelligence”

Google Tel Avis Rolls Out AI-Powered Flood Forecasting

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Google Tel Avis Rolls Out AI-Powered Flood Forecasting

As Climate Changes becomes more difficult to deny with each passing day — 95+ percent of scientists are already convinced — severe weather is becoming commonplace. Even in areas where it is common, it’s becoming more extreme and costly, both in terms of lives lost as well as the negative impact on the economy. In response to the growing urgency of the problem, Google Tel Avis has just rolled out an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered flood forecasting for flood stricken areas of India.


The remainder of this text was originally published by NoCamels.com


Google is harnessing artificial intelligence tech to create forecasting models that can better predict when and where floods will occur, and it has partnered with India’s Central Water Commission (CWC) to roll out early warnings in Google Search in the subcontinent, Google VP of engineering and the managing director of Google’s R&D Center in Tel Aviv, Yossi Matias, announced this week.

Deadly floods are common in some parts of India, especially during monsoon season, which runs from July to September every year. In August, India’s southern state of Kerala experienced the worst flood in the region in nearly 100 years, with over 400 killed and more than a million people displaced. A number of other areas in India have seen more devastating floods over the past decade, with death tolls running into the thousands. The 2004 tsunami is still the worst water-related natural disaster to have occurred in the country, with over 10,000 lives claimed in India alone.

“Floods are devastating natural disasters worldwide — it’s estimated that every year, 250 million people around the world are affected by floods, also costing billions of dollars in damages,” Matias wrote in a blog post. Existing warning systems can be inaccurate and uninformative while being wholly unavailable in some areas, “resulting in far too many people being underprepared and unaware before a flood happens,” he added

Google is now “using AI and significant computational power to create better forecasting models that predict when and where floods will occur, and incorporating that information into Google Public Alerts,” to help improve preparedness for impending floods, he wrote.

The tech giant feeds a number of elements – past events, river readings, elevation calculations – into its models to generate maps and “run up to hundreds of thousands of simulations in each location,” Matias explained.

“With this information, we’ve created river flood forecasting models that can more accurately predict not only when and where a flood might occur, but the severity of the event as well,” he said.


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The partnership with India’s CWC was first announced in June by the agency. Under the terms of the agreement, the CWC would use “state-of-the-art advances made by Google in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and geospatial mapping for effective management of water resources particularly in the field of flood forecasting and dissemination of flood-related information to the masses widely using the dissemination platforms developed by Google.”

The CWC said in a statement that until recently, it was disseminating flood levels with maximum lead time of one day, but the cooperation with Google would allow for a lead time of up to three days.

The collaborative arrangement, the CWC said, is likely to save millions of rupees “which otherwise would have to be spent by the government on acquiring high-resolution DEM [digital elevation models], high-end computational resources and developing dissemination platforms widely used by the masses.”

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 5

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 5

In part 4 of “From ‘Content is King’ to Godlike“, we exposed how determinism, or at least, deterministic factors and tendencies expose free will for the myth it really is, or at least in the context of its colloquial usage. In this segment, we’ll look at the futuristic applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and the many tech antecedents, including the many algorithm applications that inform AI that makes this probable. But before we proceed, it’s worth reiterating what algorithms are designed to do:

  • Solves problems in the most efficient way, that is, a way to accomplish a complex task quicker than any other way.
  • A way to analyze data in a way that provides a degree of certainty or predictable outcomes. Note these predictions are not absolute but rather, probabilistic.
  • A way to reason through a variety of data points toward the goal of sense-making.

Tackling the 99 percent of content that’s just sitting there.

Inferential search engines like Google are already quite capable of quickly indexing almost infinite quantities of content and data. But it’s also worth noting that what’s actually taking place in this indexing process is a variety of sorting algorithms “under the hood” that manifest in providing “on-the-fly” search results that answer the question, i.e., our search with high precision.

From there, the future of AI is really a plethora of algorithms stacked upon each other, and at other times, complex hierarchies that are invoked by the determinations made by other algorithms appearing further upstream.

Another way of looking at this, is not by algorithms per se, though they are, but rather, by metadata, and lots of it. It is the metadata and its juxtaposition with multi-algorithms that results is bizarre predictability.  Some examples:

  1. You have been divorced for 2 to 3 years from your wife, and find yourself buying Bud Lite at the grocery store, probably not realizing that your purchase was prompted by AI ads for that very product. Welcome to the world of semi-spooky correlation.
  2. You purchased a car, not online, and find yourself buying a smartphone dashboard holder from an unsolicited email. Did marketers know that you bought a car, and its year in order to determine your need for said product? Answer: Indeed they did.
  3. Your 54 years old and should be at a stage in your life where you are preparing for retirement. But you are being served up ads to go back to school for a graduate degree? Why on earth would that be happening? Answer: Based on your online behavior, these handy algorithms, et al. have determined — there’s that word again — it is probable that you are in the market to go back to school, and here’s the kicker, even before you knew it.

And only more of this is in store for all our futures. Question is, is this a good thing or something much more sinister, which will be the topic of our next post.

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 4

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 4

In “From Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 3,” we described the three important manifestations in which artificial intelligence (AI) manifests, and how you are already consuming and making decisions based on AI even though you probably are not aware of Big Tech Brother. In part 4, we look at this godlike creature as an omniscient force. And much like many Abrahamic gods which invoke optimal power, knowledge, and foresight, we examine implications on human free will and whether there is such a thing.

Free Will

For most, free will represents our capacity to behave autonomously within the reality we co-occupy with everyone else. (Well, at least most of us. Some people do not share our reality. They attest to seeing and hearing things that cannot be verified by anyone else. We call these things delusions. In addition, some people are seemingly incapable of showing empathy toward others. Mental health professionals designate such types as psychopaths or sociopaths.)

Many aspects of free will are strongly contested by philosophers, psychologists, and other academicians. But for our purposes, we’ll examine the ways in which content is presented to us on various digital devices such as computers, smartphones, and notebooks.

Example Number One: You are asked to come up with a name of any city of your choosing. You end up picking Philadelphia, but why did you choose Philadelphia of all the cities in your memory? What criteria did you use, or was the process random, or may be arbitrary? If recent studies are to be believed, you probably picked Philadelphia for arbitrary reasons along with a healthy helping of determinism. First, you probably are aware of several thousand cities, tens of thousands actually. But did you audition all of them when asked to pick a city? Nope. That literally takes way too much memory to pull off. So just like a computer uses RAM (rapid access memory) so does your brain. That leaves maybe a dozen or so cities that are in your own RAM, mostly cities you interact with regularly, or cities referenced very recently while consuming online (or offline) content. And now that you think about it, you know why you picked Philadelphia. You watched a Youtube video of Live Aid last night to see if the Led Zeppelin performance was as mediocre as your friend claims. Turns out, he was right.

It also turns out, based on your own account, that your selection of Philadelphia was determined by the factors you described. True. Not 100 percent deterministic but a probable choice indeed, one that becomes quite predictable, although not exact, among say, 20,000 of the most popular cities.

AI marketers know this too. So the next time you go to your favorite portal, take a look at those ads. Each one is contending for selection of your next so-called free choice.

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 3

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 3

In part 2 of Content is King’ to GODLIKE, we set the table for the showdown of a new godlike figure derived from harnessing content and apply artificial intelligence to it. We also drew distinctions between traditional, personal revelation gods and their contemporary contenders. In part 3, we look at how tech can become godlike by inculcating many godlike characteristics from heretofore unworked information, and how that information, once worked, can become autonomous knowledge. And Voila! we are encroaching on the purview of a virtual deity.

To fully grasp this ascendance we must implicate some mathematics, in particular, the many algorithms that drive AI.

What are algorithms anyway? Algorithms are automated rules that aspire to one of three things, and sometimes more than just one:

  • Solves problems in the most efficient way, that is, a way to accomplish a complex task quicker than any other way.
  • A way to analyze data in a way that provides a degree of certainty or predictable outcomes. Note these predictions are not absolute but rather, probabilistic.
  • A way to reason through a variety of data points toward the goal of sense-making.

Chances are when you do a Google search, you are engaging in at least goal 1, if not more than that. And when you go to a news portal like Cnn.com, those ads you see are being fed by algorithms that analyze your content consumption behavior which is why said ads are rarely irrelevant to you, even if you don’t click on them. Taking it one step further, you will notice ads that are not related to content you viewed recently (somewhere else) but are still very relevant. How can that be? Algorithms can correlate in ways that appear almost magical.

Algorithm definition (Wikipedia): a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

In the next article we’ll take a look at real-world applications of the nascent godlike technology being used “on you” right now.

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 2

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 2

In part one of, “From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE“, we introduced some mind-boggling facts: namely that:

  • 90 percent of all content ever generated in the history of mankind, was created in the last two years
  • 99 percent of all content is yet to be accessed, let alone worked, mined or analyzed.

Throw artificial intelligence (AI) in the mix and it quickly becomes apparent that we are embarking on the creation of a technology that would rival any god ever envisioned — and there have been thousands. The big difference between the gods of the past and those of the present are worth elucidating.

Traditional or conventional gods provided answers to most if not all of life’s mysteries. Of course, there are problems with that, most notably, a lack of empirical rigors to go along with the robustness of the claims. Newer gods — I’ll use Google’s search engine as an example — are empirical for sure, and use information, i.e., empirical evidence, as an epistemic foundation. From there the commonalities between the old and new intersect again since both models are pretty big on predictions (or prophecy). And before I can complete that sentence we experience yet another bifurcation with the old depending on one or another form or revealed truth and the Google god relying on inference, induction, and most recently, artificial intelligence to answer the secular prayer more commonly known simply as THE SEARCH.

God or godlike dichotomies aside, what’s a civilization to do with all this content, especially since 99 percent of it is just sitting here and there (and everywhere), doing nothing? Well, we already have the technology, i.e., Google and similar technology, to harness it. That’s one thing but taking benign predictability — the search — to profound prophecy and beyond through weird and counterintuitive correlations that provide answers even before we think of them, let alone type them into Google, is where the future of content vis-a-vis AI is heading.

The next article will get into the specifics of precisely how this might look, using everyday problems and contemplations.

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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How the Death of ‘Content is King’ May Take On Godlike Proportions: Part 1

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How the Death of ‘Content is King’ May Take On Godlike Proportions: Part 1

To say I was “blown away” by a recent editorial in NoCamels.com by Yaniv Garty, General Manager of Intel Israel, is a frustatingly cliche due to the poverty of English usage as it exists today. And it wasn’t Garty’s predictions of what the world could look like by 2025 that captured and downright agitated my imagination (in a way I enjoyed). Sure, his IT prophecies are all plausible among numerous pundits, evangelists, and visionaries. Nope. It wasn’t that.

It was the data, specifically the vast quantities of data being generated, even right now. Consider these three incredible facts:

  1. Of all the data created since the beginning of civilization, 90 percent of it has been generated in the last 2 years.
  2. By 2025, total data will reach 163 zettabytes. You probably never heard of a zettabyte, and you may want to pause before you attempt to digest it. 163 zettabytes is 1,000 Billion terabytes. Even with the comparison, I still find it incomprehensible.
  3. Only 1 percent of all data has been accessed in any meaningful way.

Garty, who is charged with growing Intel’s hardware for IT ecosystem of the future, has a lot to think about, namely…

Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how it can begin to mine the 99 percent for, among other things, greater insights and predictive measures. Intel already has its eyes on the medical field with aspirations to provide tailor-made solutions for each patient, perhaps and beyond, like unique biological and genetic characteristics.


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Another good example is the interface between data and transportation: The potential of saving lives by lowering the number of accidents made possible with autonomous driving is incredible. But to reduce accidents we need a combination of technologies working together – from computer vision to end-computing, mapping, cloud, and of course AI. All these, in turn, require a systematic change in the way the industry views data-focused computing and technology.

My personal take is that the IT ecosystem of the future will more and more resemble the different executive and subordinate functions of the human brain with neuroscientists and computer scientists conspiring to construct the greatest monster even seen: one giant decentralized and interdependent mega-brain.

In the next segment of this series, we will consider the moral and religious implications of this almost godlike monstrosity.

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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Intel Injects $75M Into Israeli Startup Habana Labs

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Intel Injects $75M Into Israeli Startup Habana Labs

This story was originally reported by NoCamels.com.


Habana Labs, an Israeli startup that develops AI processors, announced on Thursday that it has secured $75 million in a Series B funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from WRV Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Battery Ventures and existing investors.

Since it was founded in 2016, Habana Labs has raised a total of $120 million.

The new funding will go toward continued growth, including next-generation processors, sales, and customer support, said Habana Labs CEO David Dahan.


Related Story: Artificial Intelligence: Part 1.


“We are excited to invest in a dynamic team with a proven track record in the industry,” said Wendell Brooks, Senior Vice President of Intel Corporation and President of Intel Capital. “Habana Labs’ innovation and execution on their vision will help drive the next evolution of Artificial Intelligence.”

“AI brings a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a significant wave of new semiconductor companies, and venture firms are heavily investing in AI-focused chip startups”, said Lip-Bu Tan, Founding Partner of WRV Capital, a leading international venture firm focusing on semiconductors and related hardware, systems, and software. “Among all AI semiconductor startups, Habana Labs is the first, and still the only one, which introduced a production-ready AI processor. We are delighted to partner with Intel in backing Habana Labs’ products and its extraordinary team.”

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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Tech Emergence And Convergence Demystified

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Tech Emergence And Convergence Demystified

While at times the evolution of technological innovation may seem chaotic with no clear purpose, goal or objective — many new technologies seem to come out of nowhere — there is an unseen hand at play. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations foretells of this somewhat mystical phenomenon whereby markets have their own agency, filling in market gaps as if a transcendental being was overseeing our economy. What Smith and many others who followed him neglected to notice, whether intentionally or not, is that real people with keen awareness of present conditions coupled with future need are these mysterious beings. In other words, we have discovered this unseen hand, and it’s us!

I’ll use applications that just about everyone is aware of to demonstrate who all of this works. It’s a bit of an oversimplification but appropriate for this demonstration.

  1. Microsoft Word released as a standalone application
  2. Microsoft Excel released as a standalone application
  3. Microsoft PowerPoint released as a standalone application

Then Microsoft Office released comprising all three with true integration that made interfacing with all three rather easy. In other words, innovations begin as separate entities but eventually and naturally consolidate into one integrated application.

I mention this because we are witnessing the same sort of stovepipe development and consolidation happening right now. However, this phenomenon is no longer constrained to applications but rather more vague concepts such as content and speed.

On the content side, artificial intelligence (AI) is the driving force. Note that there is real category confusion about AI that is to be expected. Legacy labels such as neural networks and machine learning are becoming meaningless because each overlap and can rightly be called AI, which depicts a consolidation of applications in real-time. Now couple that with what AI needs to allow for greater capabilities, ones that science fiction describes, and there we have it. Speed. And this increased speed, actually 20to 50 times faster than its predecessor, is coming through 5g wireless.

Long story short, if you want to see the future of tech innovation, keep your eyes on AI and 5G. Throw in the peripheral technologies of the Internet of Things (IoT), and the picture becomes clear.

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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Artificial Intelligence: Part 4

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Artificial Intelligence: Part 4

In this segment on artificial intelligence (AI), part four, we’ll look at the augmented human being, part human, part machine. And don’t laugh. Computer or robotic-assisted devices are being used to augment the human condition right now. For but one example, see my previous story on exoskeleton technology.

Another slick piece of wearables allows legally blind people to read newspaper and magazines, or product labels in a grocery store, even the money they take out of their pocket to pay the cashier, using artificial visualization technology.

As neuroscientists unleash the mysteries and power of the human brain while, at the same time, AI researchers build programs that get smart and smarter, even to the point where they become autonomous learners, human anatomy and robotics, along with AI software, will converge into human/machine hybrids, some of which will have more human characteristics than others. In other words, if we live long enough, say twenty more years, we may actually meet Mr. Spock, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Some of my academic friends who are working on this exciting future are not as enthusiastic as you would think. Many fear that the ethics will not keep pace with the technology, that we will create, arguably, a new species whose rights and freedoms will not comport with our justice system as it is today. Others are concerned about the economic value of people in an age where machines and computers will do almost all of the work. What are we going to do with 5 billion in surplus labor for which there will never be a job? Without income potential yet still constantly need to consume goods and services, how will the contribute to the betterment of our species and our world? There are no good answers for any of this yet. But there certainly are many grave concerns over them and many others.

But with all the ethical, economic and social concerns over AI, what most scientists are most anxious over is the notion of singularity. Singularity, as it pertains to AI, is the moment in the future whereby computers will become not only smarter than humans (and their programmers) but autonomous as well. If you haven’t guessed by now, they’re talking about the master/slave relationship between man and machine flipping. How this would exactly happen, nobody really knows. The anxiety of such a time is difficult to imagine. But it’s almost definitely only a few decades away. And while I may be naive, if a bunch of Mr. Spocks started running our world, it’s hard to imagine how that wouldn’t be an improvement.

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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Artificial Intelligence: Part 3

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Artificial Intelligence: Part 3

In this segment, we’ll take a look at the practical applications of artificial intelligence (AI) today and what is right around the corner.

Recall the days on the evening news when reporters would interview a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to cover the impact of a trade war, a real war, or more the more disappointing earnings report from a blue chip company? Remember all those white middle-aged men in the middle of the pit gyrating most of every imaginable histrionic while shouting in desperation in secret Wall Street code and hand signals resembling gang signs with perspiration spraying everywhere?

You may not have realized it but those days are gone. Wall Street today is basically a working museum. The trading pits are gone. The only piece of the good old days that remains is the opening and closing bells which still does air on TV on occasion. The pit trader’s job has been lost to automation. Computer algorithms now do that job, and more efficiently too. But now that all (or most) human emotion has been jettisoned from the trade when unexpected events happen it’s all up to the computers to determine the best moves to make, all of which have been decided beforehand.

The same thing is true when you order up an Uber. The nearest pool of drivers is automatically petitioned. And the driver the gets the bid simply is verified of the task via a computer algorithm. Pickup and destination logistics, as well as price, are all determined by computers. As I write this, Uber has a new what I’ll call the “drunk algorithm” to determine the likelihood of a customer of having a few too many when ordering an Uber. The algorithm looks for, among other things, common typing mistakes, language used, location, and who knows what else, to determine their mental state and recommend an Uber driver more experience with unsober customers.

Advanced online marketing techniques use data analytics and other Big data to find predictive correlations between a consumers marital status and their likelihood to drink beer, and on what day, and what kind of beer. Men living in Nevada who have been recently divorced (say for less than two years) are more likely to buy a six-pack of beer on a Thursday, for instance. Knowing this, a Miller Lite advertisement will appear between 2 and 3 pm when they hit CNN.com to check the latest news.

These are but just a few examples of where AI is today. Imagine where it will be in five years! The only thing that can stop it is consumer insistence upon greater controls over their privacy concerns. But don’t hold your breath on that one. Most of us have already decided, albeit unwittingly, that the conveniences of the digital age outweigh the costs of giving up a bit of our privacy. In other words, we have traded away some of our privacy for its exchange value. And this is something we do a lot more than we would like to admit. You may recoil to the idea of having a microchip inserted into your person right now, but in five years you may find yourself opting into such a voluntary problem. Why? Because you may no longer need to remember your wallet, your keys, your passport, credit cards, rewards cards, pin numbers, or passwords. Pretty convenient, huh?

Diane Israel is a Chicago native and long-time supporter and advocate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). She is also famous for her culinary recipes. Diane can be reached at Diane@IsraelOnIsrael.com

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