Thursday, December 31, 2015

Jason Atchley : Risk Management : What Have the Past 30 Years Taught Us About Managing Risk?

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What Have The Past 30 Years Taught Us About Managing Risk? by Knowledge@Wharton

How Managing Risk Has Changed
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The problem with many catastrophic risks isn’t just that their impacts, when they hit, are so massive. It’s also that their odds of occurring in any given short time frame are very small, so that planning for them has to be handled as a long-term priority while the proverbial sun is shining. And neither companies nor individuals are particularly apt at taking serious, long-term action to prepare for low probability, high consequence events.
Enter the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, which was created 30 years ago to help individuals, businesses, governments and global organizations to be better prepared for those longer range, more unpredictable dangers.
Knowledge@Wharton spoke with Howard Kunreuther and Robert Meyer, co-directors of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, and executive director Erwann Michel-Kerjan about the center’s research and how managing risk has changed over the past few decades.
An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.
Knowledge@Wharton: Howard, what led to the starting of the Risk Center 30 years ago?
Howard Kunreuther: Well, it’s interesting that our center has always focused on low probability, high consequence events, [because] it was a low probability, high consequence event that actually got the center started. I was in the office of the CEO of Rohm and Haas with my colleague Ned Bowman [of Wharton]. We were looking at the challenges that the company was facing in dealing with environmental risks, and when we arrived there, we were told that there had been a large chemical accident in Bhopal that the company was very concerned about. It involved Union Carbide, but every chemical company was involved. And that really was the start of the center, because we worked very closely with Rohm and Haas and Cigna to begin to look at issues like chemical accidents as a way of trying to figure out how we would deal with extreme events.
Knowledge@Wharton: Thinking about the catastrophic risks that businesses faced 30 years ago, what were some of the most important risks in addition to manufacturing accidents like Bhopal that you were concerned about?
Kunreuther: It was really the chemical accidents that got us started, and I think technological accidents were clearly a very important part of how businesses had to think. They weren’t thinking as much about it as we would have liked them to. They were saying it wasn’t going to happen to me. But that was certainly on the agenda, and any time there was an accident like a Bhopal, they then paid attention to it. The other area we focused on — and that had been the focus of a lot of the research a number of us had been doing, including my late colleague, Paul Kleindorfer, who was co-director of the center when we formed it — was natural hazard risks and natural disasters. And those were risks that were not predictable, but if there was a severe hurricane or flood or earthquake, that might have an impact in terms of how the firms had to react.
“When you talk to companies or individuals and ask what risks they are most concerned about, typically, they are the things that just happened yesterday. People tend to focus on the disaster that just happened.” –Robert Meyer
Knowledge@Wharton: What were some of the research projects that you took on to look into these risks?
Kunreuther: Well, because of our start with the chemical industry, we had a very large project with the Environmental Protection Agency on chemical accidents — how one dealt with them — and technological accidents, so we were certainly working on that. We were also working on the natural hazards area and why individuals were not protecting themselves and purchasing insurance. That was something that both Paul and I had been focusing on with others over a period of time.
The other area that emerged was the siting of the high-level radioactive waste facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. There was a whole project that was formed, and for 10 years, there was a group of us who were working together. It was very much an interdisciplinary group. Paul Slovic, president of Decision Research, was a part of that. Roger Kasperson, a geographer, a psychologist, and then there were anthropologists — we were all working with the state of Nevada to try to figure out how to site this facility, and so the center played a role in that. We had been looking at siting a liquefied natural gas facility before the center had been formed.
Knowledge@Wharton: What would you say were some of the key findings of your earliest research projects?
Kunreuther: The key findings are findings we may want to talk about even today. Really, what was happening was that it wasn’t until a disaster occurred that there was really a lot of attention paid. There was a tendency to say, “This is not going to happen to me,” and firms were behaving that way. Certainly, consumers and homeowners were behaving that way. As a result, we as a center were trying to figure out the important things to think about beforehand, and what kinds of programs and policies could be put forward to try to deal with them so we didn’t have to be in a reactive mode after a disaster occurred.
Knowledge@Wharton: If all of you were to look back over the past 30 years, how would you say the nature of risk has evolved and changed? Bob, would you like to start us off?
Robert Meyer: The risks have always been there. To build on what Howard was saying, one of the things we’ve observed as a center is that often, when you talk to companies or individuals and ask what risks they’re most concerned about, typically, they are the things that just happened yesterday. People tend to focus on the disaster that just happened, so one of the things we try to do as a center is get people and organizations to focus not only on the event that just happened, but also to refocus on unseen risks.
Just to give you an example, we work with the World Economic Forum, and every year, they come out with a survey of about 900 academics and ask them what are the risks that they are most concerned about. Typically, what you find is an awful lot of year-to-year variability in what is hitting the radar screen. For example, last year, the No. 1 thing that came up was state unrest, particularly in Europe. If you think about it, that makes sense, because one of the big news items in Europe last year was unrest in the Ukraine and so forth. But what’s interesting is a risk that was very important two or three years ago: cyberterrorism. In some sense, one of our challenges as a center is to get people and organizations to think about not just the thing that happened most recently, but to take a good long-term view of what are real risks. Often, the things you have to worry about are the things that you’re not currently thinking about.
Knowledge@Wharton: Erwann, what do you think?
Erwann Michel-Kerjan: …The
Knowledge@Wharton“Republished with permission from Knowledge@Wharton, the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.”
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Jason Atchley : Tech : These 6 Startups are Changing the Face of AI in 2016

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These 6 startups are changing the face of AI in 2016

Image Credit: Shutterstock
This post is produced by BeMyApp.

According to researchers2016 will be the year of AI. Believed to be replacing the screen age as one of the “hot consumer trends,” the latest in AI allows for much more than robots, personal assistants, and self-driving cars.
Facebook recently announced that the company is open-sourcing its Big Sur servers designed for deep learning (i.e. voice, image, and language recognition). The move comes as no surprise. Google, IBM, and Microsoft already took decisive steps towards opening their AI technologies earlier this year.
And while tech giants in Silicon Valley are fighting over AI dominance, six startups from around the world are getting VC’s attention. As part of theHacker Unit accelerator program — the first remote accelerator for disruptive startups — these companies are on their way to shape the future of AI.

1. Legal Robot

Reading through and understanding legal documents can be a huge hassle for many. With an increasing number of small businesses and individuals trying to navigate the field, Legal Robot helps with understanding complex legal language using AI without the cost associated with it. The company’s goal is to empower consumers, save businesses money, and let lawyers focus on what matters. The startup uses AI to parse legal documents and translates them into accessible language; it also handles analyzing contracts, and according to its founders, “improves transparency.”

2. Semantile

Semantile is a Relevancy Engine Platform that brings AI to semantic text analysis. It allows people and companies to have a better comprehension of what a word is or is related to. It helps businesses and enterprises extract all meaningful and actionable concepts from their unstructured text and sort them accordingly. For example, if you search for a BLT on Semantile, the algorithm will tell you what is a proper BLT, what defines this sandwich, what makes it different from a burger. The Semantile team is composed of startup veterans and their mission is to re-wire how relevancy matching is done today. Semantile’s proprietary and patent pending semantic annotation and similarity discovery technology makes it a high quality and fast text analysis software compared to other text analytics in the market.

3. Shadeo

Similar to Shazam but designed for products, Shadeo is an automated in-video advertising plugin. The goal is to be able to initiate a search of an object from any kind of media flow — video, picture, etc. — and interact with it. It gives users a brand new way to search on the web and buy products that interest them. For businesses, this is an opportunity to generate qualified leads without major changes in the commercial process. So next time you see a suit in a James Bond movie that you want, you will be able to get it with just three clicks.

4. Real Life Analytics

We can’t be talking about Artificial Intelligence and not look into big data, especially when it comes to analyzing consumer behavior. The startup Real Life Analytics enables targeted advertising on any digital screen in real time using plug-and-play AI dongles. Think of commercial displays you see in places like shopping centers and subway stations that can now leverage real-time facial recognition to customize the content according to the viewer’s engagement and demographics: age, gender, etc. and provide insight into customer demographics and behavior. And we thought search-based ads were brilliant.

5. ClevAPI

ClevAPI allows brands to automatically put their logos and products on top of related objects and make advertising more natural and engaging for viewers. The SaaS technology receives and processes images, and then returns a list of tags that describe image content and precise location of recognized objects. Ultimately, ClevAPI provides real-time image recognition service for product placement and native advertising. The company is founded after years of research in deep learning and computer vision.

6. Riminder

Riminder is a service aiming to disrupt the HR industry and job seeking. Using a unique technology and tapping into deep learning, the application has a dual purpose: on one side, it helps individuals improve their career path thanks to the two million careers the company has analyzed. Simultaneously, Riminder allows talent managers and recruiters to leverage both internal and external data to attract relevant talent and pinpoint high potential candidates. Don’t miss the right candidate or the most fitting job again — use real data and make smart decisions.
Being part of the Hacker Unit accelerator is allowing these startups founded in different places around the world to connect and work with mentors and experts. The program is designed to be entirely online and this first batch is graduating in March. Follow their progress as they take AI one step further.
If you’d like to get in touch with them and find out more about their solutions, we will be happy to help:

Hacker Unit was launched in November, 2015 by BeMyApp and aims to solve the problem of successful business acceleration and fund-raising tied to geographic location.
Vera Glavova is Director of Operations, BeMyApp.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Jason Atchley : Legal Tech : LXBN’s 2015(+) in Review: Net Neutrality Impacts All Internet Users in the US, But Net Neutrality Laws Still Unclear

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LXBN’s 2015(+) in Review: Net Neutrality Impacts All Internet Users in the US, But Net Neutrality Laws Still Unclear

Posted in eCommerce, Net Neutrality
LXBN 2015 Year
The LexBlog Network (LXBN) featured this blog on December 23, 2015: Although Internet access is essential to all businesses and individuals in the US (and around the world), apparently the F.C.C. (Federal Communications Commission) continues to struggle with getting Net Neutrality legally correct.  Most people don’t even realize what’s going on with the Net Neutrality controversy which has been in and out courts over the past of the past decade , but what’s at stake will impact us all.
I liked the simple explanation of what Net Neutrality is from the New York Times on the eve of the December 4, 2015 hearing before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals:
It’s a lousy name for the idea that traffic for all legal content on the Internet should be treated equally. In practice, that principle has taken shape in F.C.C. regulations that bar Internet service providers from blocking certain websites or making them download slower or faster than others.
An example of a net neutrality violation would be if Comcast decided to intentionally make streams of Netflix videos buffer while allowing its own streaming service to play seamlessly to its millions of home broadband customers. Another would be if AT&T blocked Facebook Messenger for its wireless customers.
At that December 4th hearing the plaintiffs challenged the F.C.C.’s authority to regulate and control the Internet by classifying broadband Internet as a Title II service which is the same bucket which the F.C.C. regulates telephone services (Communications Act of 1934).  The F.C.C. actually took this action after the same DC Circuit Court’s 2014 vacated the then current Net Neutrality rules.
Also the New York Times reported that Judge David Tatel, who wrote the opinion when the case was last before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014:
…pointed several times to case history that supports the F.C.C.’s move to regulate broadband services like utilities. He said an opinion by the Supreme Court in 2005 gave the F.C.C. the ability to categorize communications services as it sees fit.
Explaining the argument the New York Times also made these observations:
Telecom and cable firms argue that broadband services are not the same as telephone services and should not be strapped with the same utility-style framework of heavy regulations. They say the F.C.C. illegally put broadband into the same bucket as phone services so the net neutrality rules should be overturned. The agency has argued that it had to reclassify broadband as a utility-like service after the court vacated rules last time and told the agency it was making rules on shaky legal ground.
Google is Pro and Con!
Here’s a great irony, in 2013 Wired reported that Google is on both sides of Net Neutrality –as an ISP and as a provider of fiber.  A Kansas City potential customer filed a claim with the F.C.C. that Google would not permit that potential customer to run a server on the Google fiber which Google defended.  So as a fiber provider Google wants limits that are the opposite of what they demand as an ISP.
Watch Out for a Political Change
Only to make things more complicated Net Neutrality is also a very political issue since theF.C.C. has five Commissioners, of whom the Chair is appointed by the US President and whatever party the President hold a majority of three of the five Commissioners’ posts.  So if a Republican is elected President in 2016 then the control of the F.C.C. would shift and it is entirely possible Net Neutrality would morph into something different.
Also for all we know Congress may decide that they know better and revise the F.C.C.’s power and take control over Net Neutrality.
To make a long story short, Net Neutrality may not be resolved by the DC Circuit’s upcoming ruling and remain a complicated legal issue for years to come.