Friday, November 22, 2019

US Patent and Trademark Office Wants to Know if A.I. Can Own Its Own Creations

Can an artificial intelligence (A.I.) own what it creates? The USPTO wants the public's opinion:

The US office responsible for patents and trademarks is trying to figure out how AI might call for changes to copyright law, and it’s asking the public for opinions on the topic. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register last month saying it’s seeking comments...
The office is gathering information about the impact of artificial intelligence on copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights. It outlines thirteen specific questions, ranging from what happens if an AI creates a copyright-infringing work to if it’s legal to feed an AI copyrighted material.

Read more here...

Monday, November 18, 2019

Achieving Simplicity in a Complex System

Mumbai is one of the largest cities in the world and an average working professional leaves home pretty early in the day to take the local train to commute to the work. Each day approximately 4,000 dabbawallahs deliver almost 250,000 home-cooked meals (for late breakfast and lunch) from the kitchens of suburban wives and mothers direct to workers in “the world’s most ingenious meal distribution system.”

The foot soldiers are Dabbawallahs, who pick up the home-cooked lunches in the suburbs, hop on trains, and deliver them, on foot or bike, to office workers in Mumbai. Later on, they pick up and bring back the same empty tiffins (the name for the metal containers used).

The tiffins consist of several stacked aluminum boxes with a carry-handle. Each container carries individual portions that separate curry dishes, bread, rice, desserts, and more. This means multiple courses. Tiffins come in several different compartments so as to separate starter, mains, and dessert. The tiffin serves to keep food in its original shape - no bruised fruit or mashed roti. The tiffin’s handle is at the top, keeping everything upright when being carried. Home-cooked meals are economical and can be more healthy.

While the system seems very complicated, it is the coming together of many elements, including the railway system in Mumbai. The dabbawallah rely on the train to deliver the lunch boxes around the city. Stefan Thomke, the Harvard Business School professor studied the system: “[the railway] sort of helps them in unexpected ways. It synchronizes the system because in Mumbai the railway is one of the few things that always runs on time. It forces the entire organization to run according to a rhythm.”

Another example of how simplicity aids the dabbawallah system is  the labeling of the tiffins. There’s very little information coded on the boxes. “For example, there’s no return address,” says Thomke, “but these boxes have to go back to the person who gave them to you.”  The simple color coding system acts as an identification system for the destination and recipient and origin of the tiffin.

The Dabbawala Association has been in business for over last 125 years. In 1998, Forbes Magazine recognized its reliability to match the Six Sigma standard. This means that the dabbawalas make less than 1 mistake in every 6 million deliveries. Be it a Steve Jobs or Picasso, all the great artists always had a penchant for simplicity. Value and efficiency is maintained by  keeping to basics. The process is very lean and uncomplicated. And the customer is the most important cog in this machine.

Read more here

Sunday, November 3, 2019

WFH isn’t the only way to achieve improved productivity

Asynchronous Communication is the real reason remote workers are more productive. Studies show remote workers are more productive than their office-bound counterparts. As mentioned in the linked article, "...people gain back time (and sanity) by avoiding rush hour commutes. They avoid the distractions of the office. They regain a sense of control over their workdays. They have more time to dedicate to family, friends, and hobbies."

This is where asynchronous communication stands out -- when you send a message without expecting an immediate response. For example, you send an email. I open and respond to the email several hours later.
Synchronous communication is when message is sent and the recipient processes the information and responds immediately. In-person communication, like meetings, are examples of purely synchronous communication. You say something, I receive the information as you say it, and respond to the information right away.
Digital forms of communication, like real-time chat messaging, can be synchronous as well. For example Slack or other chat tools: someone sends a message, I get a notification and open up Slack to read the message and respond in near real-time. Even email is treated largely as a synchronous form of communication. A 2015 study conducted by Yahoo Labs found that the most common email response time was just 2 minutes.

Read more here...

Friday, November 1, 2019

Giant-Sized Drone for Cargo

From Engaget:

While Volocopter's been busy working on its air taxis, it's also preparing to enter the utility drone market using a similar design. Much like the company's experimental 2X and upcoming VoloCity, the aptly-named VoloDrone announced today is yet another 18-rotor electric aircraft, which can be remote-controlled or set to a pre-planned route in autonomous mode. But instead of carrying passengers, the VoloDrone is designed to fit various types of cargo and equipment under its belly -- be it a box, an agricultural sprayer, a sling or disaster relief tools.
Watch the video for more...