Annie Brown, Contributor AI writes in Forbes that developing Coherent AI Infrastructure for Smart Cities is a case in which the Emerging technology in artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming cities, making them smarter, faster, and predicting opportunities for improvement. So here is her write up.
The picture above is for illustration and is of SmartNations.
Developing Coherent AI Infrastructure For Smart Cities
56.2% of the world’s population lives in cities. The issues that impact cities are felt everywhere. From commuting and congestion to economies and supply chains, increased efficiencies in urban areas are net positive for communities around the country, and the world.
Emerging technology in artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming cities, making them smarter, faster, and predicting opportunities for improvement.
Myriad fresh-off-the-R&D stage AI tools proliferate in urban environments. Because of dense populations, and a concentration of equipment and machine based projects, AI’s ideal testing ground is a city. The truth is that AI is also most aptly applied in an urban environment.
Overhauling infrastructure is often associated with large capital expenditure and timelines spanning decades. Those barriers are being addressed through innovative solutions: AI and machine learning can upgrade the urban infrastructure fast, and at a fraction of the cost.
AI-Powered Smart Transit to Get Cities Moving Again
Innovators in the space are leveraging innovative computer vision technology—aided by machine learning—to transform the urban transit infrastructure and deliver reliable, sustainable and equitable public transportation. For example, Hayden AI, based in Oakland, CA, has built the first autonomous traffic management platform with vision-based perception devices.
These devices are mounted in a city fleet, such as transit buses, street sweepers, and garbage trucks. Each vehicle-mounted perception device is equipped with precision localization technology, enabling it to detect and map objects such as lane lines, traffic lights, street signs, fire hydrants, parking meters, and trees. This data then creates a “digital twin,” or a rich 3D virtual model of the city.
According to Vaibhav Ghadiok, co-founder and VP of Engineering with Hayden AI, “The network of spatially aware perception devices collaborate to build a real-time 3D map of the city. These devices learn over time and from each other to provide data and insights that can be shared across city agencies. This can be used to make buses run on time by clearing bus lanes of parked vehicles or help with city planning through better parking and curbside management.“
Ghadiok leveraged his expertise in robotics, computer vision, and machine learning to architect the Hayden AI platform with a firm belief that efficient and improved access to transit systems lies at the heart of building sustainable cities.
One of Hayden AI’s first tests was on inner city traffic. Stop-and-start, people circling for parking, and blocked bus lanes cause traffic jams everyday in major cities. When bus lanes get blocked by motorists, it slows down buses, decreases ridership, and increases costs for the MTA. Ridding bus lanes of parked vehicles can positively impact millions of lives.
It can also be used to identify parking meters, so cities can improve parking management. In addition, it can be used to alert drivers to available parking spaces nearby, alleviating the problem of driving around continuously looking for parking. The technology can even perform traffic pattern analyses to determine how many pedestrians are walking across an intersection at certain times of the day.In the future, these systems could be used to schedule curb space, enabling, say, a delivery truck to park in a typically restricted area for 15 minutes to drop off packages.
Take asset management, as an example. If a city wants to know when to trim a tree, data can be provided to assess the need for maintenance. How many fire hydrants are there and are they accessible?
Achieving this with fixed cameras is impractical given the steep cost of installation that can exceed $100k, time required to install, coordination of multiple civic agencies overcoming red tape and multiple rounds of approval. Ghadiok commented, “Mobile perception systems can be easily installed and are not only more cost-effective but accomplish more with fewer devices.” He further added, “An advantage of being a non-safety critical device is that we can rapidly iterate and deploy state-of-the-art algorithms to a street near you.”
The possibilities for what perception systems can convey, and the strategic decisions that can be made, are virtually endless. Social responses to these proposed improvements have been countered by concerns about privacy and regulations. That, too, is being proactively addressed by the global community of innovators.
New Paths for Politics and Society
AI unlocks the capacity for data to be used in transformational ways, but it still requires guidelines. A growing body of AI specialists see the powerful potential of AI to play a role in both politics and society, if the right standards are in place.
It’s called the AI World Society (AIWS) and aims to build “A Better World With AI.” Composed of leaders from around the world, this body is attracting leaders from technology, world governments, and innovators who recognize AI’s key role in building a better tomorrow.
With representation at the UN, the G7 Summit, the AI International Accord Conference—and with a growing body of sponsored research and thought leadership—AIWS may provide much-needed guardrails to the ever-increasing supply of AI-powered tools, including smart cities.
AI has the potential to optimize life-saving, life-sustaining resources, including water, electricity, traffic, housing, and education. As the prevalence of AI tools increases, politicians and citizens alike must be empowered to understand and use technology.
Two initiatives by AIWS that have sparked worldwide interest are the AIWS Ecosystem and AIWS City. Co-founder Tuan Nguyen, an esteemed mathematician, explains the concept of the AIWS Ecosystem in this way: “Many things function with a team of systems. AI makes it possible to need and use only one. Enhanced applications make it possible for people to become innovators.”
Data scientists, technologists and other leaders are supporting a structure of models for facilitating a digital age. As an example of their activities, at the 2020 Riga Conference, leaders from AIWS relayed a new policy brief entitled “Social Contract for the Artificial Intelligence Age: Safety, Security, and Sustainability for the AI World.”
AIWS has a growing presence in Paris, Rome, Riga, Vienna, Munich, and now further west into the United States. This body could make it possible for every person to have access to AI tools that make their lives better and easier. In fact, it is their stated mission to provide support to urban environments, but also to rural areas, reducing inequality and connecting people to centralized tools and information.
The City of the Future
Emergency services, community improvements, infrastructure, and the very roads that convey vital goods could all be enhanced by AI-fueled technologies. Some of the simplest ideas have the potential to go the furthest. Dedicated leaders are committed to using AI in safe, thoughtful, and tested ways. Their shared goal? To improve the quality of life for every person in every community around the world.
Annie Brown is the founder of Lips, a feminist technology organization at the forefront of the inclusive design movement, building products designed to unlock opportunities for previously underserved and intersectionally marginalized communities. Currently, Lips is building more inclusive Machine Learning and Contextual AI technologies that can be used across industries to improve the online experience of traditionally marginalized communities.
Al-Fanar Media elaborates on a report where the so-called Arab narratives, about Artificial Intelligence, are explored. AI is also predicted, it could change the MENA region more profoundly than anything else before. How would that happen? Is it through using a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building intelligent machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human beings’ brains? Or is it just another way of procuring the ability of a computer or computer-controlled or robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings? Or put another way, is it needed to cover humans’ unpredictable performance by a more stable and well-controlled machine?
But what are Arab narratives?
The MENA region is culturally dominated by the Arab ethnocultural authoritarianism in the current socio-political systems and finds it difficult to get their respective populations to come up with some added value in any domain.
They might, though, have some success with the AI. Let us see.
The picture above is for illustration.
Arab Narratives About Artificial Intelligence Are Explored in New Report
CAIRO—The Middle East and North Africa region needs to be more involved in the global debate about the development of artificial intelligence-related technology, says a new report that examines the narratives about technological futures that are widespread in the Arab world.
Narratives about future uses of robots and intelligent machines—how a culture portrays them in areas including history, literature, art and films—can influence the development and reception of artificial intelligence (AI), says the report. Yet Western perspectives typically dominate AI discussions, it says, and Arab perspectives are largely missing.
It notes the MENA region’s rich history and culture and the ability of its youth to employ technology as a means of expression, by presenting literary works based on science fiction or by their economic participation in technology-based start-ups, which can help create new business models suitable for the future and contribute to providing job opportunities in an area where young people make up a large majority of the population.
Joining the Global Dialogue
“The region might not be rich in technology compared to developed countries,” said Nagla Rizk, a professor of economics and founding director of the Access to Knowledge for Development Center, who is a co-author of the report. “However,” she added, “it has a rich stock of culture and history that manifests in technological narratives in different ways.”
“Our participation in this initiative was an excellent opportunity to include the voice of our Arab region in the global dialogue platform on artificial intelligence narratives.”
Nagla Rizk A professor of economics and founding director of the Access to Knowledge for Development Center
The report comes as part of the Global Artificial Intelligence Narratives Project, an initiative within the Leverhulme Centre to build a network of experts around the world to analyze different cultures’ perceptions of the risks and benefits of AI. The initiative holds a series of workshops outside the English-speaking world, with local multidisciplinary groups of researchers and practitioners from fields related to AI narratives, such as science fiction, scientists, artists, AI researchers, philosophers, writers and anthropologists.
“Our participation in this initiative was an excellent opportunity to include the voice of our Arab region in the global dialogue platform on artificial intelligence narratives,” Rizk said.
She noted that because modern technology, especially artificial intelligence, is usually developed in technologically advanced countries in response to the needs and aspirations of their people and in a way that expresses their cultures, this can result in a kind of inequality, given that the rest of the world does not share those countries’ needs in developing this technology.
For example, technological development is being pushed at breakneck speed by the governments in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as in less affluent countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. Such initiatives are often influenced by Western models, in contrast with the current grass-roots efforts and start-ups, which usually rely on simple technologies and local techniques that reflect the concepts of individuals.
“Stories about AI that are grounded in the realities of people living in the Middle East are the best way to explore local visions of the future using smart machines.”
Tomasz Hollanek A media and technology researcher at the University of Cambridge and a student fellow at the Leverhulme Centre
“Stories about AI that are grounded in the realities of people living in the Middle East are the best way to explore local visions of the future using smart machines,” said Tomasz Hollanek, a media and technology researcher at the University of Cambridge and a student fellow at the Leverhulme Centre. Hollanek, who is also one of the report’s authors, believes it is important for these visions to reflect the aspirations and needs of the region’s people, rather than importing ideas from elsewhere, particularly from the English-speaking West.
Fear of Reinforcing Stereotypes
The report expresses concerns that some narratives about artificial intelligence in the region will reinforce gender stereotypes in the future. It cites an example from a popular Egyptian comedy skit from the 1980s, in which a female robot named “Ruby” appears as a domestic servant who responds to orders from the play’s main male character.
In contrast, “Ibn Sina,” the first Arabic-speaking robot, created in the U.A.E., is anthropomorphized as male and is not a servant. Named after a famous 11th-century philosopher, physician and poet, the robot symbolizes the region’s scientific heritage and reflects strength and wisdom, the main traits of masculinity in patriarchal societies.
Another local example is a robot named “Zaki”—which means “smart” in Arabic. Zaki is a chatbot used in an Internet banking platform in Egypt, and thus reflects men’s control of the financial sector, the report says.
Hollanek points out that narratives can have a direct impact on how technologies are conceived and developed. For example, the representation of certain groups on screen can have a realistic effect on who performs certain jobs: the more female AI researchers appear in films and TV series, the more likely young, ambitious women will pursue a career in AI research.
“We hope for a better reality and future for Arab women, away from stereotypes, which will naturally be reflected in their portrayal in technological narratives,” said Rizk.
Obstacles and Opportunities
“We just need to be able to discover talented people and properly employ them to build a base for technology development.”
Mohamed Zahran A professor of computer science at New York University
According to Hollanek, the report reveals how post-colonial perspectives—both in the region and among MENA citizens and beyond—continue to significantly influence perceptions of the Arab region’s potential for full realization of the benefits of AI. That’s why he says it’s important to imagine a future with intelligent machines as a decolonial activity, as a way to resist the Western ideas of “progress” or “development.”
Mohamed Zahran, a professor of computer science at New York University, believes there are obstacles facing the region’s acceptance of the development of artificial intelligence. These include the fear that robots will take people’s jobs, and the fear of Western dominance in the technology market; fears the report also highlighted.
However, Zahran agrees with the report’s authors that the region will be able to overcome these obstacles, with its capabilities, talents, and emerging artificial intelligence start-ups, in addition to the ability to rent supercomputers that are now available.
While technology is Western, Zahran said, the report draws the world’s attention to the Middle East and what it can contribute to developing the future of artificial intelligence. “We just need to be able to discover talented people and properly employ them to build a base for technology development,” he said.
Building sites in Europe are now using image recognition software made by Buildots that flags up delays or errors automatically. It is by Will Douglas Heaven who elaborates how AI that scans a construction site can spot when things are falling behind.
October 16, 2020
Construction sites are vast jigsaws of people and parts that must be pieced together just so at just the right times. As projects get larger, mistakes and delays get more expensive. The consultancy Mckinsey estimates that on-site mismanagement costs the construction industry $1.6 trillion a year. But typically you might only have five managers overseeing construction of a building with 1,500 rooms, says Roy Danon, founder and CEO of British-Israeli startup Buildots: “There’s no way a human can control that amount of detail.”
Danon thinks that AI can help. Buildots is developing an image recognition system that monitors every detail of an ongoing construction project and flags up delays or errors automatically. It is already being used by two of the biggest building firms in Europe, including UK construction giant Wates in a handful of large residential builds. Construction is essentially a kind of manufacturing, says Danon. If high-tech factories now use AI to manage their processes, why not construction sites?
AI is starting to change various aspects of construction, from design to self-driving diggers. Some companies even provide a kind of overall AI site inspector that matches images taken on site against a digital plan of the building. Now Buildots is making that process easier than ever by using video footage from GoPro cameras mounted on the hard hats of workers.
When managers tour a site once or twice a week, the camera on their head captures video footage of the whole project and uploads it to image recognition software, which compares the status of many thousands of objects on site—such as electrical sockets and bathroom fittings—with a digital replica of the building.
The AI also uses the video feed to track where the camera is in the building to within a few centimeters so that it can identify the exact location of the objects in each frame. The system can track the status of around 150,000 objects several times a week, says Danon. For each object the AI can tell which of three or four states it is in, from not yet begun to fully installed.
Site inspections are slow and tedious, says Sophie Morris at Buildots, a civil engineer who used to work in construction before joining the company. The Buildots AI gets rid of many repetitive tasks and lets people focus on important decisions. “That’s the job people want to be doing—not having to go and check if the walls have been painted or if someone’s drilled too many holes in the ceiling,” she says.
Another plus is the way the tech works in the background. “It captures data without the need to walk the site with spreadsheets or schedules,” says Glen Roberts, operations director at Wates. He says his firm is now planning to roll out the Buildots system at other sites.
Comparing the complete status of a project with its digital plan several times a week has also made a big difference during the covid-19 pandemic. When construction sites were shut down to all but the most essential on-site workers, managers on several Buildots projects were able to keep tabs on progress remotely.
But AI won’t be replacing those essential workers anytime soon. Buildings are still built by people. “At the end of the day, this is a very labor-driven industry, and that won’t change,” says Morris.
Change note: we have changed the text to clarify how the Buildots system differs from others.
reports how Google launches hieroglyphics translator powered by AI. It is like another instant messaging application that though set in Ancient Egyptian times can do more than messaging.
Google launches hieroglyphics translator powered by AI by SSN – July 16, 2020
Google has launched a hieroglyphics translator that makes use of machine studying to decode historic Egyptian language.
The function has been added to its Arts & Tradition app. It additionally permits customers to translate their very own phrases and emojis into shareable hieroglyphs.
Google says Fabricius is the primary such instrument to be educated by way of machine studying “to make sense of what a hieroglyph is”.
In idea, it ought to enhance over time as extra individuals use it.
A desktop model of Fabricius can be being provided to skilled Egyptologists, anthropologists and historians, to help their analysis.
One knowledgeable welcomed the initiative however mentioned its “grand claims” wanted to be considered in context.
“Whereas spectacular, it isn’t but on the level the place it replaces the necessity for a extremely educated knowledgeable in studying historic inscriptions,” mentioned Dr Roland Enmarch, a senior lecturer in Egyptology, on the College of Liverpool.
“There stay some very huge obstacles to studying hieroglyphs, as a result of they’re handcrafted and fluctuate enormously over time in degree of pictorial element and between particular person carvers/painters.
“Nonetheless, this can be a step on the street.”
The software program’s Workbench instrument permits the person to add images of actual hieroglyphs discovered on artefacts and digitally improve the photographs to raised analyse the symbols.
Picture copyright GooglePicture caption
The Workbench function permits customers to hint hieroglyphs to assist the software program distinguish them
Customers can hint the outlines of hieroglyphics, which the software program then tries to match up with related symbols in its database – permitting them to seek for completely different meanings and try to decipher findings.
The instrument works by analysing historic data and definitions of the language.
However Google hopes it will possibly construct up a extra intensive database as individuals add to the system.
Researchers can even annotate and retouch pale symbols in Workbench, which Google hopes will result in new historic findings.
The instrument was created in collaboration with the Australian Middle for Egyptology, at Macquarie College, Psycle Interactive, Ubisoft and Egyptologists from world wide.
“Digitising textual materials that was up till now solely in handwritten books will utterly revolutionise how Egyptologists do enterprise,” Dr Alex Woods, from the Australian Centre for Egyptology, mentioned.
“Digitised and annotated texts may probably assist us to reconstruct damaged texts on the partitions and even to find texts we did not know had been there.”
The software program’s launch coincides with the anniversary of the invention of the Rosetta stone, which first enabled specialists to be taught to learn Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate the rise of industrial automation and enable manufacturers in developed countries to compete with low-cost labour in the developing world. As such, developing countries must respond by developing local industrial capabilities with new technologies and skills that will allow them to become more integrated into world trade. As per the AMEinfo published on 3 July 2020, this interesting essay is worth reading, especially since it might affect the MENA region countries.
Developing countries could lose out as automation competes with low-cost labour
WTO: Future of global value chains depends on China’s industrial strategy and the global adoption of 4IR technologies
UNIDO: Developing countries must bolster local capabilities with new technologies and skills to become more integrated into global value chains
mPedigree: African SMEs enter global value chains as virtual technologies lower business costs
The COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate the rise of industrial automation and enable manufacturers in developed countries to compete with low-cost labour in the developing world; multinational corporations are already considering repatriating some manufacturing production as a result of the unprecedented disruption the pandemic has caused to global value chains; developing countries must respond by developing local industrial capabilities with new technologies and skills that will allow them to become more integrated into world trade.
Xiaozhun Yi, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), highlighted that more than a third of the predicted decline in world trade brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a rise in trade costs and temporary disruptions to transport and logistics.
He stressed that the future structure of global supply chains depends on whether the pandemic accelerates two key trends that have been underway for several years. These include China moving up the value chain due to its industrial strategies or rising labour costs, and the increasing adoption of labour-saving technologies in modern manufacturing. “We believe that this pandemic may accelerate the trend of production automation and we know that this trend may reduce some opportunities in low skilled manufacturing,” Yi said.
However, he added that governments of developing countries can still attract multinational companies by introducing measures to limit trade costs, such as lifting tariffs and minimising travel restrictions and border controls.
Cecilia Ugaz Estrada, Special Advisor, Directorate of Corporate Management and Operations, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), agreed that automation erodes the comparative advantage that low-cost labour gives developing countries over developed countries and this could lead to production being brought closer to the headquarters of transnational corporations that are at the head of global value chains. In response to this shift, developing countries should accelerate efforts towards more regional integration, allowing them to expand markets and trade more with their neighbours, said Ugaz Estrada.
However, Bright Simons, Founder and President of Africa-based technology company mPedigree, said COVID-19 has affected regional trade in Africa as much as global trade and that in some cases regional trade is more impacted. He cited a number of barriers to expanding regional trade within the continent, including high transportation costs, which can make it more expensive to trade within Africa than to trade internationally. “It’s not that easy, even if you wanted to, to maintain a sourcing regime that involves cutting yourself off from global value chains,” he said.
Simons added that the capacity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa to export had been constrained for many years by stringent standards requirements and supplier certification programmes in developed countries, particularly in Europe. However, he added that technologies are now emerging that can streamline these processes and reduce the cost for all businesses.
“What virtual capabilities now enable is to reduce the cost of skills importation, so we have had situations where certification bodies are now able to conduct end-to-end audits online,” he said. “That cuts costs by as much as 95% and this for the first time makes it possible for some SMEs to meet these demands and be able to export overseas.”
Under the theme – Glocalisation:Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Global Value Chains, the third edition of the internationally recognised Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit will virtually, for the very first time, bring together high-profile thought-leaders and business pioneers from around the world to shape the future of manufacturing, discuss the impact of pandemics on global value chains, and highlight the role of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies in restoring economic and social activities. At the top of the #GMIS2020 virtual edition agenda will be the topic of digital restoration – how 4IR technologies are helping to restore the global economy and overcome unprecedented challenges.
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