Monthly Archives: February 2015

What do Furbies and cloud computing have in common?

The dawn of AI is here and it’s all possible because of cloud computing.

Let’s go back to the ’90s when Furbies became popular. The little toy fur ball had a small bit of Artificial Intelligence. It may be hard to believe, but that little guy had more computing power than the Apollo 11. Yes, the spacecraft that landed man on the moon. Fresh out of the box these AI fur balls would talk Furbish, the language of the Furby. After children had interacted with them for a while, their Furbies would learn certain English words. Furbies could even interact with each other if you had multiple units. Furbish was translated into 24 languages.

Furbies were not only cute (if a cross between a hamster and an owl is your idea of cute), the fact that they were able to “learn” a few words made them endearing. However, they obviously didn’t show the intelligence or the discernment of a human. But that would change a few years later when in 1997 a team of programmers and chess experts programed a machine called Deep Blue. The supercomputer had enough reason and logic to beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov at chess. The Russian had the upper hand the first few games, but Deep Blue progressed and eventually beat the chess Grandmaster, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.

Watson is our next step in the progression of AI. Watson, an artificially intelligent computer system, was programed to be able to listen to a question (think Siri on your smartphone) and then answer that question. To prove how brilliant this AI was, in 2011 TV quiz game Jeopardy had Watson on a show and matched it up against two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. At the conclusion of the competition, Ken and Brad lost to Watson.

Enter cloud computing. For those who are familiar with the cloud, you know that it’s not just a buzz word. The platform is essentially thousands of remote servers working together in a centralized location. Users can then access the data either created or stored on those servers via a device such as a handheld device or laptop.

You probably see where I am going with this. The next logical step for AI is to let the cloud do the computing at lightning speeds, like Watson did on Jeopardy, and then send that information back to the device or AI being, such as the character Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek. We can see an early concept with CogniToy’s green dino. The green dino is a child’s toy about the size of a teddy bear that can carry on a conversation on different topics, tell a story, and even answer age-related questions. The intelligence grows or matures with the child. In fact, the green dino even has the ability to discern whether or not the answer is a little too mature for the age of the child, at which point the toy will tell the child to go ask his mom the question. All of this “smart” dino’s responses are computed in the cloud.

Currently, the only limitation of AI is being able to reach a Wi-Fi connection. However, as municipal wireless networks (where the entire city has access to a Wi-Fi signal) become more and more popular, this AI obstacle may not be around for much longer, allowing AI to continue to grow intellectually.

With giant tech companies such as Google buying up AI startups and cloud computing advancing so rapidly, it’s reasonable to expect ongoing funding for AI—and artificial intelligent beings in our lifetime. All thanks to cloud computing.

My name is Colton and I work for Mozy

 

Meet Colton. Colton is an integral member of our partners team here at Mozy. Colton works with our partners to help grow their business by selling EMC product to their customers. Colton quickly impressed management and worked his way to a few promotions since joining the Mozy Sales team. Colton is a vocal Pittsburgh Steelers fan and is a proud pogonophile and for all intents and purposes is the Brett Keisel of Mozy.

I define my workspace as…

“The Command Center.” It is a perfectly organized disaster. That is how I like it. Too clean stresses me out and too cluttered makes me uncomfortable. It’s got to be just right. My computer and monitors have got to be in just a way to make me efficient without distracting me. Some may call this a delicate balance. I would agree.

A device I can’t live without….

I’m pretty plugged in so it would be hard to answer this question. The obvious answer is my phone, and it is probably the best answer. But so much media streams in and out of my house that many other devices would be a close second. Anything from a PS4 or Xbox to my Roku and Chromecast. Take your pick.

When I arrive at work, I typically start my day off by…

Reviewing if I accomplished my goals from the previous day, and setting new goals for the current day. I then dive into whatever will help me accomplish the goals I just set.

How long have you worked for Mozy?

Three years in one capacity or another.

I do/do not listen to music at work and it helps me work better because …

I don’t usually listen to music because I am often on the phone. The few times I do listen to music I do because I need to avoid distractions and get something done.

If you could be in one TV sitcom or movie, what would it be and why?

I will answer this question in two ways.

If I had a chance to be part of the cast of a TV sitcom or movie, it would likely be “The Walking Dead.” It would be fun to kill Zombies and be part of something unique and ahead of its time.

If I could live in a TV sitcom or movie as if it were real life, I would like to live in the world of the movie “Remember the Titans.” I would love to have been part of an intense sports story on top of experiencing all the insane racial negativity and cultural biases. I would love to have been a part of that challenge.

Outside of work, I am passionate about …

Many things. First and foremost, my family. My wife and I have a two-year-old girl and a boy on the way. Outside of that I am passionate about board games and video games during the winter, fishing, camping and other outdoor stuff in the summer, and sports year round. Steelers, Jazz, Penguins, Diamondbacks, Juventus (I think I covered any sport I care about in order of how closely I follow them).

My eating habits are …

Poor and picky habits to be frank. I love Italian food, but I am also a pizza and pasta snob. I’m not a huge fan of anything that grows from the ground.

If I could be someone for a day, I would be…

Mike Tomlin, head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I would love to be involved at the highest level of the sport, but I wouldn’t want to be on the field. Mike is a coach who hangs around a legendary organization and it would be fun to be a large part of it, even if just for a day.

The “secret sauce” that makes me who I am …

My passion to help people I love and care for. It’s important to love what you do, but more important to love who you do it for more.

One thing that makes me unique is….

My beard is unique. It is my mane that sets me apart and shows a unique side of my personality. Most people can only dream about such majesty and grandeur. (I hope that comes across sarcastically and not in arrogance.)

Guilty pleasure…

Dungeons and Dragons. I know I am a tabletop game nut, but I never thought I would dive so deep into the rabbit hole. Now that I have, I can’t get out. Don’t judge me.

 

Three ways the world is harnessing technology for the greater good

Recent advancements in technology have provided us with convenient ways to improve the quality of life. We no longer have to bum a quarter off of our parents or a stranger to make a call. We have remotes to nearly every electronic device in our house. But did you know that the same technology that is making our lives more convenient is saving literally thousands if not millions of lives in developing countries? Let’s take a look at three ways that technology is making life easier throughout the world.

Omniprocessor

If you’re a bit squeamish, this idea is one that may take a little while to get used to. One of the most recognizable faces in the tech industry, Bill Gates, recognized that urban sanitation is neglected and under-invested. He has a point. Nearly 1.5 million children die from contaminated food and water in developing countries. Gates and his foundation saw potential in a concept that would take raw sewage and turn it into potable water along with other benefits such as ash and electricity. The Omniprocessor addresses that issue by producing water that meets or beats the water standards of the supermarket brands through a profit-creating process.

Along with being able to harvest potable water from raw sewage, the Omniprocessor also creates electricity. The electricity that is created powers the processor and will even create extra power that the community can use or sell. Through the process of extracting potable water from the sewage, the waste is burned down to an ash that can be used or sold to benefit the community as well. All processes meet strict EPA standards, so there is no harm to the community.

Empower Playgrounds

Empower Playgrounds harnesses the energy of children (wouldn’t we all like to have the energy of a child!) in rural third-world countries to further their education. By providing a high tech merry-go-round, the kids essentially create energy for their village. To better visualize this, just think of a windmill lying on the ground. The kids act as the wind that propels the windmill, but in this case it’s a merry-go-round. The merry-go-round is connected to a gearbox that acts as a speed increaser, which powers a shaft that runs a generator, which sends a charge to a deep cycle battery. The battery can then power up rechargeable lanterns, which the school children use at night to be able to study what they learned at school that day. This allows the children to stay in school and complete their education.

Mosquito-zapping lasers

Malaria was eradicated in the United States in the 1950s. Other developing countries aren’t as lucky to have such a deadly disease contained. Nathan Myhrvold and his team set out to find a way to lower the risk of malaria by eliminating malaria-carrying mosquitos with lasers. Using a combination of store bought electronics his team developed a device that can blow mosquitos right out of the air. It’s pretty fascinating. Watch the Ted Talks video. The laser can target a moving mosquito and then zap it with a laser. The contraption is even smart enough to discern whether or not the insect is a mosquito rather than a beneficial honeybee or butterfly by the beat frequency of the insect’s wings. A perimeter could be set up to protect a hospital or a home from malaria-carrying mosquitos and could save as many as to 627,000 lives per year.

We look forward to seeing how the next generation will harness the power of technology to benefit the world for the greater good.

 

 

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