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Success with automation and AI requires a high ‘RQ’

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Companies know that a high IQ can help drive business value. But the analyst outfit Forrester Research believes that if companies are going to successfully work side by side with artificially intelligent systems, they’re also going to need a high “RQ.”

RQ, or robotics quotient, is a measurement of how competent a company will be at automation and AI implementation. The Forrester assessment is based on three main areas: people, leadership and organizational structures. A fourth area, trust, will influence the three main categories and change depending on the type of technology being deployed.

J.P. Gownder, a Forrester analyst serving CIOs, described RQ as the “human contribution” companies need when deploying automation and AI technologies. “It’s not just about the bots; it’s not just about artificial intelligences,” he said in a July presentation at the New Tech and Innovation 2018 conference in Boston. “It’s about real people, real leaders and real organizational structures that you need to put in place to make sure you’re most likely to succeed.”

Toronto moments

Automation and AI technologies are on a spectrum from more deterministic, where A always leads to B, to more probabilistic, where A could lead to B but could also lead to C or to D.

And these probabilistic systems create a new wrinkle for companies: No matter how swanky the user interface or how cutting-edge the technology, probabilistic systems can produce incorrect — and even illogical — results that can erode the trust humans have in the machine’s abilities.

Gownder pointed to IBM Watson as an example. During its Jeopardy! debut in 2011, Watson answered a final question about U.S. cities with “Toronto,” causing the audience to gasp. When researchers did a post-mortem, it became clear that even Watson doubted the response. Using probabilistic judgement, the machine determined that Toronto had only a 30% chance of being correct, but it was the best answer it could come up with at the time.

These “Toronto moments,” as Forrester now refers to them, “teach us something about the intersection between human beings and AI and the trust that is part of this,” Gownder said.

The more probabilistic a system is, the more human intervention it might need. But designing systems and processes that strike a balance between trust and intervention will be a challenging step for companies. That’s where Forrester believes RQ will come in handy.

What is RQ?

The robotics quotient is a self-assessment that “measures the ability of individuals and organizations to learn and adapt to and collaborate with automated entities,” Gownder said. It’s composed of 39 characteristics that Forrester regards as a collection of automation and AI best practices.

Forrester Research, RQ, robotics quotient, PLOT frameworkJ.P. Gownder

The higher the score, the more prepared a company is to tackle the new challenges that come with automation and AI technologies. But RQ doesn’t just measure readiness, according to Gownder. It also enables CIOs to “identify gaps or areas where you need to prioritize resources before you make a big bet on automation and AI,” he said.

The 39 characteristics fall into one of three categories — people, leadership and organizational structure. People, for example, are measured across different dimensions — such as facilitation, which considers how effective an employee might be at communicating with an automated entity, and perception, which includes things like basic digital literacy and “constructive ambition,” or an eagerness to learn.

For leaders, the RQ highlights vision, adaptability, the ability to inspire trust and influence. The final category refers to IT employees and beyond; CIOs will need to influence the C-suite and even the board of directors to secure the budget, buy-in and support that automation and AI tools can demand. “The CIO is no longer a benign dictator who has all the power,” Gownder said. “This is the creation of an ecosystem across business units with lots of participation from the workers themselves.”

Organizational structures will also need to adapt. Automation and AI may require new titles such as bot manager, new training and mentoring opportunities for humans and machines alike, new processes that encourage human-machine team creation, and new metrics. “After all, we can have all the good intentions, and the well-educated employees and the leaders who are on board,” Gownder said, “but if we do not create structures, processes and budgets — the b word — we’re going to have a hard time getting this through.”

Don’t forget about trust

The categories of people, leadership and the organization are then measured against one final category — trust. Gownder called trust “a multiplier in this model.” Automation and AI technologies exist on a spectrum from transparent to opaque, and where the technology falls on that spectrum will influence employee trust.

“If you’re implementing something that is very transparent, that is very deterministic, your employees will bring a high level of inherent trust to the machine. They’re used to these sorts of systems,” Gownder said. “If you’re using probabilistic systems, where the machine is often uncertain of its results, then you’re going to have a higher burden of RQ investment.”

Forrester’s model breaks down the complexity of trust by providing a numeric value for how deterministic the technology is, how transparent the technology is and how much change the technology could have on the workplace.

The changes that automation and AI will have on the workplace could be a sensitive area for leaders, especially as automation and AI instigate changes in the workforce. “As you might imagine, when employees are losing their jobs as part of a deployment of automation, you magnify the mistrust among remaining employees,” Gownder said. “It raises the bar for the change management.”

But the efforts could be worthwhile. As repetitive tasks become automated, job satisfaction generally goes up, Gownder said. And although AI remains in its early stages, it is poised to transform how companies operate and interact with customers.

Whether companies choose Forrester’s RQ method or not, Gownder argued that an organizational competency in AI and automation is needed.

“If you want to be successful in creating a mixed workforce that incorporates digital workers, human workers, lots of automated processes, lots of probabilities, lots of real-time data and AI, you’re going to have to measure your people, your leaders, your organization and the inherent trust that is associated with technology,” he said.

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Source: https://searchcio.techtarget.com/feature/Success-with-automation-and-AI-requires-a-high-RQ

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Amazon to hire 75,000 workers, offers $100 extra for vaccination proof

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(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc will give $100 more to new hires with proof of COVID-19 vaccination, the world’s largest e-commerce retailer said on Thursday, as part of its plan to employ 75,000 workers for fulfillment and logistics operations.

As vaccines become crucial to reopening of the economy, several U.S. retailers, including Dollar General, Kroger and Target, are offering bonuses or other perks to staff getting their shots.

Demand for hourly staff at restaurants, factories, retail stores and fulfillment centers is rising as e-commerce demand remains robust, while more consumers are expected to step out of their homes after a year of lockdown living.

The vaccine-related incentives are also aimed at attracting workers flush with relief checks and wary of the pandemic as well as the lack of childcare facilities back to work.

Amazon will pay the new hires an average starting pay of more than $17 per hour, reflecting recent hikes of between 50 cents and $3 an hour for about half a million fulfillment-center workers in the United States.

It will also pay a sign-on bonus of up to $1,000.

The e-retailer has benefited from a surge in e-commerce sales as more consumers moved online last year, forcing it to hire thousands and offer attractive perks and bonuses.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/amazon-hire-75000-workers-offers-100-extra-vaccination-proof/14650

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Google wins cloud deal from SpaceX for Starlink internet service

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(Reuters) – Google has won a deal to provide cloud services to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has launched a slew of Starlink satellites to provide high-speed internet, it said on Thursday.

SpaceX will set up ground stations within Google’s data centers that connect to the Starlink satellites, enabling fast and secure internet services via Google Cloud, the search giant said.

This service is expected to be available in the second half of 2021 for enterprise customers, the company said.

The deal comes at a time when demand for cloud-computing services has soared, with players like Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc dominating the market. Cloud companies have also tapped into the telecoms sector, thanks to a jump in demand for 5G connectivity.

Google’s cloud business accounts for about 7% of its total revenue, as of the latest earnings report.

Last October, Microsoft won a similar deal from SpaceX to connect its Azure cloud computing platform to Starlink.

Privately held SpaceX, known for its reusable rockets and astronaut capsules, is ramping up satellite production for Starlink, a growing constellation of hundreds of internet-beaming satellites that Musk hopes will generate enough revenue to help fund SpaceX’s interplanetary goals.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/google-wins-cloud-deal-spacex-starlink-internet-service/14649

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Chat app Discord to test ticketing, make audio events easier to find

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By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) – Chat platform Discord said on Thursday it will start to test paid tickets for audio events, the first feature where creators can make money from the site, and will launch a tool next month to help users more easily find live audio channels.

Discord, which grew quickly during the pandemic and says it has 150 million monthly active users, will roll out ticketed events this month in a pilot with fewer than 50 creators, all based in the United States, a Discord spokeswoman said.

The announcements follow Discord’s launch in March of “Stage Channels” where users can tune in to an audio channel operated by a host, a feature popularized by the year-old, invite-only Clubhouse app.

Discord was first used by videogamers but has increasingly expanded to different communities and is used for events ranging from comedy clubs to karaoke parties.

The platform said in a blog post that it plans to launch a “Stage Discovery” feature on June 1 to help users find different new voice events.

A slew of online platforms like Facebook and Twitter are working on their own audio chat services. Social media companies are also racing to build features to attract content creators who have built large fan followings and want to make money directly from their platform audiences.

Discord said it would also launch a feature this summer called “Threads” to make text chats more streamlined and easier to follow.

Reuters reported last month that Discord had ended sale talks with Microsoft Corp to focus on expanding its business as a standalone company.

This month, Sony Corp announced that one of its units had made a minority investment in Discord as part of a deal to tie in the platform with Sony’s PlayStation gaming division.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; editing by Richard Pullin)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/chat-app-discord-test-ticketing-make-audio-events-easier-find/14648

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Exclusive: Crypto crime down in 2021 through April, but ‘DeFi’ fraud at record -CipherTrace

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By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Losses from cryptocurrency theft, hacks and fraud fell sharply in the first four months of the year, but crime in the booming “decentralized finance” space hit an all-time high, a report from crypto intelligence company CipherTrace showed on Thursday.

DeFi applications are platforms that facilitate crypto-denominated lending outside traditional banking, using an open-source code with algorithms that set rates in real time based on supply and demand. Many DeFi applications are embedded in the ethereum blockchain.

Globally, crypto criminals ran away with $432 million as of end-April, according to the CipherTrace report. About 56% of that, or $240 million were DeFi-related, a record peak.

For the whole of 2020, losses in the crypto sector through fraud and crime were $1.9 billion. In 2019, crypto crime losses hit a record $4.5 billion.

Cryptocurrencies are once again in the spotlight with the surge in prices for the second-largest token, ethereum, and social media darling, dogecoin.

The drop in crypto crime reflects some maturation in the industry, as infrastructure improved and companies and exchanges boosted security systems.

DeFi, however, is another story. The value locked – the total number of loans on DeFi platforms – was $86 billion as of Wednesday, DeFi Pulse data showed, up roughly 650% from $11 billion in October.

The surge in the industry’s growth has attracted the bad actors and market participants said the rise in crime is likely to accelerate as DeFi expands further.

“As more money pours into the space from retail and institutional players, bad actors will seek to take advantage of the hype to draw people into scams and hackers will seek out projects that have launched without performing adequate security audits, exploiting loopholes encoded in the smart contracts,” Dave Jevans, CipherTrace’s chief executive officer, said in an emailed response to Reuters.

Losses from DeFi-related hacks already exceeded the $129 million taken for the whole of 2020. In 2019, there were no DeFi losses reported.

One of the major losses in the DeFi space was the $80 million worth of funds stolen on April 19 from EasyFi Network, a DeFi project on the Polygon Network, the CipherTrace report said. EasyFi reported that a hacker stole roughly $80 million worth of funds from its wallet.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Alden Bentley and Matthew Lewis)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/exclusive-crypto-crime-2021-april-defi-fraud-record-ciphertrace/14647

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