Author Archives: Maciąg Agnieszka

Robotic Process Automation

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The idea that robots can replace humans is probably one of the most popular topos of science-fiction movies. Nonetheless, this far-fetched scenario can actually be real within a couple of years – thanks to nowadays development of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). It is a software that allows for mimicking human behavior with the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The base of this software are robots with a wide range of abilities; for example, they can: enter data, complete complex tasks, login, and log out of many systems. The remarkable trait of RPA is allowing to tackle complex repetitive business processes without human intervention.

As future entrepreneurs and employees, we should bear in mind this acronym. RPA comes with many advantages, such as cuts in costs, time, effort, and even cuts in the workforce. As the error rate of robots is at successful 0%, it is an entirely credible service that can be loosely scrutinized. Because of that property, RPA made its way into Accounts Payable (AP) Automation. Robots can handle alone invoices management, including actions such as reading invoices, extracting key details, pasting them into SAP, and sending emails regarding this document. Similarly, we can look into Legal Automation. As we all know, the traditional way of handling case documents in courts can be arduous. Piles of paper and data are a literal nightmare for lawyers that keep them away from work. This low-efficiency also influence the costs of legal processes. All that hopelessness can go away with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and business process automation (BPA). Legal departments and in-house counsels can count on robots with help on e-discovery, analysis of data, and contracts management.

 

Looking into the Robotic Process Automation market, there are three foremost leaders of the RPA market: UiPath, Blue Prism Group, and Automation Anywhere. All of them are start-up launched in 2005 and earlier, but, in spite of venture capitals and fundings, they didn’t become successful until they entered the RPA market. But this market is continuously growing and becoming more creative. Many entrepreneurs are looking into innovations and integrate RPA with cognitive technologies: speech recognition and language processing or machine learning. Many businesses are setting this sort of automation, known as intelligent automation, on their strategic plans for this year.

 

Image result for rpa

 

To sum up, RPA is undoubtedly revolutionizing the whole entrepreneurship. It disrupts mundane work with the futuristic idea of robots. Not only can the benefits of automation be observed in all departments across huge companies, but also small households. With the use of Robotic Process Automation, we can finally excel in our work without wasting time on repetitive copy and paste formalization. As shown in the history of this technology, automation within the last years grew from its infancy to a fully demanded service. However, many fear that robots can take our jobs and increase unemployment rates. For example, government workers usually do tasks that can be easily automated, such as entering data or handling all bureaucracy. Similarly, low-qualified employees can ponder upon their place in digitalized work. On the contrary, we should think about how we can mitigate the repetitiveness of the job and complain about that error in the data, which forces us to re-enter all data into the system. This will enable us to focus on real work, customers, and finally enjoy the awe of life.

 

Resources:

The Vision of Tomorrow

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Image result for mercedes avtr

From the myriad of new technologies and innovations presented at CES, the world’s largest electronics show in Las Vegas, there was one concept that stood out in the spotlight – Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR. This advanced vision transportation, inspired by James Cameron’s iconic movie, Avatar, is part of the Mercedes-Benz strategic agenda for the next years, which strives for a more sustainable future. The connection to the film results from its essential message: the Mercedes-Benz plan’s line of reasoning perfectly fits with Avatar’s environmental and spiritual themes. During the reveal, James Cameron, the director of Avatar, joint with Mercedes-Benz members, highlighted the importance of sustainability and coexistence of technology and humans not interrupting the development of nature.

 

This futuristic concept vehicle is said to be entirely eco-friendly. It is electric, carbon-neutral, and supposed to interact with the surrounding world. The exterior design of the car is supposed to blend in with nature. After opening, the doors are designed in a way to imitate the dragonfly, and at the back of the car are located 33 individual hatches that resemble breathing scales on a reptile.

Related image

The futuristic design even extends to the interior part of the vehicle, as there is no steering wheel, and it is driven using biometrics. You are one with the car. This concept of using a driver’s biometrics is adapted straight from the Avatar movie and should imitate the symbiotic relationship between the driver and the vehicle. The comfort and infotainment of electronics in this vehicle are based on the driver’s hand, as by waving gesture, we are able to drive the car.

 

After getting in, the system of control lights up on your right hand, and by gestures and waving, you can operate this eye-popping vehicle. By touching the element in the center of the car, it wakes up. The lights and element go up and down to imitate breathing and heartbeat. Not only does this car drive straight and backward as a regular car, but it also has an ability to drive sideways. Large odd flamboyant wheels enable this car to move, little resembling crab-walk, perpendicularly. The vehicle went through the real-life test on the roads of Las Vegas and proved itself to be ready to hit the streets to saturate them with the aspirational and eco-friendly idea of the future.

 

 

The presence of James Cameron and his collaboration with Mercedes-Benz is not only all about sustainability, but also the longly-awaited sequel of Avatar movie. Whether it is just a costly marketing or a real car that could be seen in some time on the market and roads, we cannot argue that it is a successful fulfillment of the statement “Vision of Tomorrow.”

 

Resources:

Tagged , , , ,

The Perfect Wave

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Related image

 

Escaping the cold December noons, you travel to the Hawaii Pipeline. The beach, renowned for its waves, is gleaming in the sunshine. You feel the light breeze of salty water on your cheek and vitamin D soaking into your skin. Having your best holidays, you decide to try this perfect blend of warm water and high waves. You stand on your surfboard and try your skills in the ocean.

 

But this scenario is usually far from reachable. Not only does surfing is highly costly, but also, as the weather is often unpredictable, it can be hard to find high waves. In Europe, the cost generating factor is mostly the absence of ocean that can create such waves as we can observe in Hawaii or Africa. Even assuming that we have the money for such travel, we cannot be sure for 100% that our journey will satisfy our surfing cravings due to the, for example, lack of wind. To fight with both of these factors and raise the popularity of surfing across the globe, Kelly Slater, an eleven-time world champion in surfing, came up with an idea to create a perfect wave machine.

Image result for kelly slater surfing

In 2009, this surfing legend with a spark of creativity and lust for a groundbreaking change to the surfing industry teamed up with the University of Southern California’s professor, Adam Fincham, to find the perfect wave. Inspired by an iconic movie, The Endless Summer, they began working on outsmarting nature and came up with a ring-shaped lake in which the wave endlessly went around the center. But Slater’s idea was to create a rectangular pool that would perfectly imitate the ocean’s atmosphere and skills needed. Studying complex mathematics to find a formula that can crack the geophysical fluid dynamics, in 2015, they invented The Kelly’s Wave. In the middle of California’s country, they set up Surf Ranch and started disrupting the surfing industry.

Image result for kelly slater's wave poolRelated image

In this approximately 2,000 feet long and 500 feet wide pool, the artificial wave is created by a unique system of hydrofoils. The pool is filled with 15 million gallons of UV-and-chlorine-treated freshwater, and the main 100-ton hydrofoil is named “The Vehicle.” Running down a track with the help of more than 150 truck tires, it has the ability to create 6.5 foot-tall waves, which run at about 30 kilometers per hour. Of course, for beginners, you can adjust the height of the stream and its speed to provide them with a safe and enjoyable experience. This invention astonished The World Surf League (WSL), and they are currently the most significant stakeholder in his Kelly Slater Wave Company. Furthermore, from 2019, you can participate in the Freshwater Pro Championships held at the Surf Farm led by the World Surfing Team and WSL.

 

The truth is that Kelly’s wave changed the surfing industry, and, in spite of the numerous wave pools created, Slater’s one is the best in history. Outsmarting nature, the technology behind it enables surfers to create a contest or just enjoy the sport without even thinking about the weather. But this invention also divided surfers into two groups – one that admires surfing because of its search for a wave, vibing with nature and the “perfect imperfections” of the ocean’s dynamics, and the other one that is more focused on the skills, adjusting techniques and making surfing mainstream.

 

Resources:

  • https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/12/17/kelly-slaters-shock-wave
  • https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/04/kelly-slater-built-a-wave-machine-that-could-change-surfing.html
  • https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/the-new-yorker-radio-hour-extra-kelly-slaters-perfect-wave-brings-surfing-to-a-crossroads
  • https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/the-facts-and-figures-behind-kelly-slater-surf-ranch
  • https://blog.theclymb.com/out-there/10-of-the-worlds-best-waves/

 

Tagged , , , ,

SMART DUST

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 


Dust that creates from particles of soil, pollution, or volcano eruption is not an innovation. It is actually a very unpleasant component of wind that makes you cough. Also, you can think of it as the thing that gathers all over that thick book you got for your 8th birthday from some aunt who was hoping for your bright education. Nevertheless, at the turn of the 21st century came a revolution to dust. With many futuristic ideas set out in novels of such authors like Stanisław Lem or Neal T. Stephenson, one agency of the US Department of Defence started to ponder whether we can apply them in real life. This action sparked an interest of UCLA, and the project of smart dust emerged.

 

So, what is smart dust?

 

The best way to think about smart dust is as a tiny microelectromechanical system (MEMS). The other name for these systems is motes. They can be found in many shapes, but usually, smart dust devices are tiny sensors or robots. What is worth pointing out is that these nano-structured mechanisms come with numerous remarkable abilities. This seemingly crazy technological innovation straight from the future combines computing, sensing, and wireless communication in a small autonomous powered device. As smart dust is typically not more than a few millimeters, it can be brought into the environment just like a particle of dust. This feature enables it to enter any small space and for example, check its humidity. Despite smart dust small size, it can store an actually significant amount of data and wirelessly connect to other MEMS. It can also detect everything from light to vibrations and report the features of a particular region in a matter of seconds. Moreover, these devices are connected to the onboard computer with which they can process collected data.

 

For what we can use it?

 

This kind of Internet of Things (IoT) technology first emerged with hopes to apply it in the military dimension. Smart dust can be used in warfare to determine the traits of the battlefield, which is very important for creating a good strategy. As it is almost invisible, its abilities give the opportunity to drag the victory of smart dust’s user side. With this also comes its application in security departments, as MEMS can keep an eye on people and products. Furthermore, the knowledge of the environment is a matter of utmost importance not only for the military but also for agriculture. Because of that, smart dust devices pathed its way into farming as it can monitor particular crops to ascertain the amount of water, fertilizer, and pest control needs. The most extraordinary application can be found in a paper written by a couple of researchers at UC Berkeley as they devised neural dust which could be implanted on the human brain in order to measure its functioning. As this technology might sound way too futuristic for you to have it, you can actually print it in a 3D printer. There are a few commercially available schemes and projects which you can deploy with not so enormous budget.

 

 

To sum up, smart dust is undoubtedly revolutionizing in many industries. The most promising applications can be found in healthcare and security. It disrupts mundane solutions with cutting-edge technology. But there is also a dark side. As this technology is targeted into supervising and is barely traceable, it raises questions about privacy. How can we be sure anybody doesn’t spy on us? With that question in mind and knowledge that anybody can create smart dust and use it anywhere, the reflection elevates data protection to a whole new level.

 

Resources:

  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/09/16/smart-dust-is-coming-are-you-ready/
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnnWrLt_RCo
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/eliseackerman/2013/07/19/how-smart-dust-could-be-used-to-monitor-human-thought/#4027a3197ebf
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufr7ZT1CNwA
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartdust

New Art

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Works generated by AICAN (https://www.aican.io)

Most people – by which I mean those who sometimes visit an art gallery on holidays – perceive art as arduous, labor-intensive paintings or sculptures with a great aesthetic. We usually associate it with renaissance beaux-arts, Italian mannerism, Rubenesque characters or baroque era. Needless to say, as art is a very subjective phenomenon, there is no particular definition of it. But we usually agree upon the definition of an artist: a person who creates the art.

But what if the art was created by artificial intelligence? Can we perceive a painting created by an algorithm as an art?

Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, Obvious

For the New York art scene, the answer to this question is yes. In October 2018, the auction at the New York auction house Christie’s changed the game. An algorithm-generated print, Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, was sold for an enormous price of $432,500. The upshot of this occurrence was creating the so-called “AI-art gold rush.” Many programmers found their artistic niche on the market and started creating various algorithms to generate art. Among their works, we can find such as Psychodelic Wisteria, Unity Rising and Divided Sunshine by AICAN, DeepDream algorithm by Alexander Mordvintsev, and many others. 

 

The main machine learning class systems to produce AI-art are generative adversarial networks (GANs). It works following way: an artist provides GAN with a training set (a database where he or she uploads for example 300 Medieval European paintings), and then the algorithm creates a new canvas imitating the data set. This way, the system can generate authentically looking medieval art in no time with only an algorithm defined by the algebraic formula. Of course, we can influence the final output by creating one more random painting or playing with the training set: adding our sketches or drawings. But in many cases, AI-art is very eccentric due to its face deformations, as an algorithm does not know how to imitate a human face accurately.

 

So the heated debate is about whether we can perceive these algebraically generated pixels as art? 

 

The critics of AI-art argue that painting with no intent and message cannot be art. Not only can’t it convey any profound virtues and values as the machine doesn’t know basic human emotions, but also we cannot identify with the system. But isn’t art also a process? A process of creation, reflection, and a bridge between creativity and reality? Behind each of the algorithms stands a person who created the generative model and gathered the data set. Many of them created heaps of distinctive artworks to upload them to the data set. Moreover, to tackle the originality part, there is an evolution to GAN – a new system CAN: creative adversarial network. This system creates smooth abstract images in order not to produce anything that could be recognizable.

 

Over the years, society was always intrigued by the collaboration between art and technology. Twenty and twenty-first-century enabled us to see the output of it, which in many cases can be compared to human-made art. Between DeepDream or Magenta, where everyone can create their AI-art and Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, sold at the New York auction house, is a striking disparity but, arguably, both of them can be perceived as copacetic, eccentric works of art.  

 

 

References:

  • https://aiartists.org/ai-generated-art-tools
  • https://www.americanscientist.org/article/ai-is-blurring-the-definition-of-artist
  • https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/ai-portrait-ap.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=1033
  • https://www.aican.io
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_adversarial_network   (GAN)

 

Tagged