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Shattering the ML prediction hysteria

November 26, 2017 Leave a comment

MLThere’s a not a single day that goes by without an article or ten about how ML (machine learning) is going to take over the world. (e.g. a quick search on Google today offers predictions about it transforming customer service, transforming out cities etc.).

So it was refreshing to read an article in MIT’s Tech Review (“The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions”) about what’s real in ML vs. what’s hype and an over extrapolation. In essence, the author (who just happens to be the founder of iRobot among other accomplishments) offers a few reasons:

  • We overestimate tech in the short run and overestimate in the long run (think GPS)
  • All tech has limits. We are not taking that into account yet for ML
  • ML today is pretty narrow in what it can do
  • We’re stretching (too far) the concept of learning
  • The speed of deployment is going to be limited by what tech already exists (e.g. PLCs are being used in Tesla’s ultra modern factory in Freemont)

Definitely worth a read.

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Origins of PowerPoint

November 8, 2017 Leave a comment

For those consultants (and other corporate monkeys) that have the unfortunate need to spend their waking hours in PowerPoint, I thought this article from IEEE on the history of the software may be interesting. Apparently one of the first decks was a fictional pitch from Columbus to the Queen of Spain.

first powerpoint

What surprised me was how little things have actually changed. Sure there are more bells and whistles, but the essentials are pretty much the same as they were 30 years ago. Maybe the evolution to long form word documents that Amazon famously imposed is way overdue.

Future of warehouses?

November 2, 2017 Leave a comment

It seems like there’s not a week (or is it day?) that goes by without much hand wringing about how machines are going to take over humans. The New Yorker led with this this week on its cover. Buried in the article on this topic was a eye opening (for me) piece on the future of warehousing, led by companies such as Symbiotic.

warehouse future

What’s different about companies such as these (rather than companies that simply automate pieces of the way warehouses currently work), is that they sell fully automated warehouse systems. A few tidbits that caught my eye:

  • Since the robots don’t need light to operate, the warehouse requires 35% less energy than conventional warehouses.
  • The warehouses can run ~24 hours a day.
  • It costs ~$50M to install, and pays for itself in about 4.5 years
  • Apparently Target, Walmart and Coca Cola are experimenting with this

If you are interested , there’s a longer (but older) article on this from the WSJ.

 

Wisdom of ~500 CEOs synthesized

October 30, 2017 Leave a comment

I found this article in the NY Times from Adam Bryant on the top things he’s learned in interviewing over 500 CEOs pretty interesting. At first glance, I thought it would be the normal business pabulum, but there a few nuggets in there on life, hiring, leadership, culture etc. that I found interesting. Although, it’s hard to summarize, the quote about culture stood out for me.

People seeing who succeeds and fails in the company defines culture. The people who succeed become role models for what’s valued in the organization, and that defines culture.

Worth a read.

Categories: interesting, tips Tags: ,

Cars account for ~60% of airport revenue

August 16, 2017 Leave a comment

 

airport revenue

Apparently car parking & rental car concession fees account for ~60% of non-aeronautical fees for airports in North America. (I would have put the figure for retail / food at a much higher level than that.)

Given the juggernaut that is ride-sharing, this share is likely to take steep tumble: Although consultants used to have to rent cars in the old days, I’ve yet to meet a consultant who’s not addicted to Uber.

Categories: interesting, travel, trends Tags: ,

Silicon Valley high

August 13, 2017 Leave a comment

If you work in Silicon Valley and have ever wondered if what others are doing or saying is plain bonkers, there may be a (previously undisclosed) reason according to a recent article in 1843: A lot of people are doing LSD to “improve their productivity”. Although numbers are of course hard to come by, there are some clues in the article:

  • A group on Reddit now has 16,000 members, up from a couple of thousand a year ago indicating a ~8x jump
  • Apparently most of the billionaires without exception use LSD

Interesting read. Keep in mind when meeting that next Silicon Valley leader.

Online retailers ~2x profitable as offline

August 6, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m not a fan of cute images that show data, but this one (from the WSJ) caught my eye for its data. It basically compares the total costs of sales offline vs. online. Notice that key differences are in not having to pay store employees which more than offsets the costs of free shipping and returns. The full article is here.

BF-AR108_goingo_9U_20170803133008

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