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  • 28 Apr 2017 2:04 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)
    From Delta Sky Magazine

    By Joseph Flaherty, March 2017

    In 1967, Herman Kahn, a nuclear physicist and futurist at the Rand Corporation (who also served as inspiration for the character Dr. Strangelove), wrote a book called The Year 2000 in which he made 100 predictions about what the next 33 years would bring. He was surprisingly prescient in predicting mobile phones, real-time banking systems and a pervasive surveillance apparatus. His predictions that humans would hibernate in homes staffed by robots and powered by personal nuclear reactors haven’t held up so well.

    Still, 50 years after Kahn made his bold predictions, we asked a group of academics, technologists and entrepreneurs to provide a shorter-term perspective on the most impactful technologies and trends that are likely to influence this year and beyond.

    General purpose artificial intelligence that can think and communicate like a human—what computer scientists call “strong AI”—remains a sci-fi fantasy. However, artificial intelligence trained to excel at a narrow focus, or “weak AI,” has turned out to be a versatile technological solution to many vexing problems.

    Using an elegant technique called deep learning, weak AI is what Facebook uses to tag people by name in photographs. It’s what allows Google to complete your searches before you even finish typing. Weak AI can develop new ways to beat video games, write sports stories based on a box score, create a creepily accurate copy of your voice and even write lyrics to a rap song. Weak AI has become powerful enough to best humans in the complex game of Go, decades sooner than experts had expected.

    This progress has led credible technologists, economists and venture capitalists to believe we could soon have a future in which tax preparers, paralegals, insurance underwriters and others find themselves out of jobs. Estimates from the World Economic Forum suggest that AI-based automation could cause 5 million jobs, mostly white collar, to be lost by 2020. Worries about the availability of desk jobs have replaced fears of a destructive robot uprising.

    But not everyone is certain that robots will rob humans of meaningful work. “Humans want to make things and to buy things. So I’m confident we won’t run out of work anytime soon, even as automation increases in some professions,” says Thomas Rid, a professor of security studies at King’s College in London and author of the book Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History. “And let’s not forget how difficult it is to automate jobs that require a high degree of adaptation and improvisation: Anybody who thinks robots should long have taken over from plumbers, dentists or construction workers probably has a fanciful notion of robotics and AI.”

    Rid suggests that predictions should be based on real technologies, not science fiction. “Whenever we approach the machine-as-human—and the term AI does that, pretending that machines could become like us, with artificial brains—we tend to fool ourselves. Let’s not approach AI by looking at science fiction, but by looking at existing technology.”   

    By that measure, AI is an unqualified boon. AI gives artists new tools to create, provides real-time translation to facilitate cross-cultural communication, has made autonomous cars a reality and has given some health care providers the ability to provide more targeted cancer treatment.

    But while AI makes some people wary, the most pressing cybernetic threat we face may be the tiny black box sitting under our TVs. Last October, hundreds of thousands of DVRs, webcams and other seemingly harmless internet-connected doohickeys launched a coordinated cyberattack that temporarily took down websites such as Twitter and Spotify. It was resolved quickly, but it did highlight weaknesses in our online infrastructure.

    “Like an early version of our highway system, the internet was not architected to support the massive volume of content and data that it now supports,” says Kyle York, chief strategy officer at Dyn, a startup that provides critical back-end infrastructure to companies such as Twitter and National Geographic. “The internet is also more volatile and prone to disruption than most people would think.”

    The Internet of Things, the umbrella term for the ecosystem of smart light bulbs, smoke alarms, door locks—most of which house small, though powerful, computers—can wreak havoc. These low-priced gadgets are rarely seen as threats and become ripe for hacking. A computer programmer recently demonstrated that a web camera was infected by a computer virus just 98 seconds after being plugged in. To give a sense of scale, there are 6.8 billion cellphone subscriptions across the globe, and experts forecast there will be 20 billion connected devices in people’s homes by 2020, increasing the risk for future attacks.

    “Network security will continue to evolve as bad actors respond to the solutions that industry experts develop to patch vulnerabilities. It’s a wild game of cat and mouse,” York says. “Increased vigilance and the realization that advanced mitigation tools and techniques need to be employed to provide greater threat detection and security will help. Predictive technologies will become a major defense as companies aim to move from disaster recovery to more of a disaster avoidance posture.”

    Not being able to access Twitter is a pain, but the scarier “cybersecurity” threats are personal. Imagine a scammer who disables the smart lock on your front door until you pay a $5 ransom via Bitcoin. Or a hacker who threatens to disable your smoke alarm unless you give him access to your Facebook account. There may come a time when you’ll need to buy antivirus software for your vacuum cleaner.

    Tech has had a dark side since the days of dial-up, but until recently, it was possible to filter the good from the bad, even if it meant disconnecting. In 2017, tech’s dark side threatens to spill out into the real world, and the way we think about technology is going to have to change—quickly.

    Amazon is Walmart on steroids, and Netflix is the logical extension of the corner video store, but the basic act of shopping isn’t that different from what existed before the internet—it’s just faster and better. But advances in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity promise to reshape our world in ways that are harder to predict. And whether you’re a cybernetic chicken little or an entrepreneur thrilled by emerging technology, one of the preeminent tech historians of our day says it’s mostly guesswork in the end: “History has a clear lesson: Most of today’s predictions are going to be wrong,” says Thomas Rid. “Futurists in the past got far more predictions wrong than they got right.”

    In the words of Terminator’s John Connor, “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.” Regardless, buckle up, because it’s going to be an exciting ride. 

  • 25 Apr 2017 12:39 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    Full Story

    Nicole NguyenBuzzFeed News Reporter

    When you sign up for a free online service, you’re usually giving up your personal info in return. Here’s how to find out just how egregious that data collection is.

    If there’s only one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    The New York Times recently reported that, an email management app that promises to de-clutter your inbox, sold its users’ anonymized Lyft receipt data to Uber. claims that it’s “trusted by millions of happy users” — but it’s likely that those users weren’t aware that they were forking over their personal emails to Slice Intelligence, a digital commerce analytics company. Now, some users are pledging to remove their inbox accessfrom and delete their accounts.

    The fury is a good reminder of the ol’ Internet adage, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”

    But some sites are much more egregious than others. So here are some ways you can assess an app’s trustworthiness and find out if your free faves are problematic.

    What does “you’re the product” even mean?

    When you sign up for a free online service, you’re most likely giving up something in return: your data. On sites like Facebook and Google, that means the service uses your personal information (like your interests, location, gender, marital status, or age) to show you advertisements they think you’d be interested in. Last year, Facebook made more than $26 billion from advertising.

    For many people, this sounds like a good trade off: You get to use something legitimately useful, like Gmail, for free, and the most visible consequence is an advertisement. But other companies go much farther., for example, didn’t use user data to target ads — it looked at individual emails and sent them to Uber.

    And if you found that story about Target knowing a teen girl was pregnant before her father did thanks to extensive customer data collection to be pretty creepy, you should know that that same kind of analytics-based-advertising-influence has probably been exercised on you.

    How do I know what companies are doing with my data? Is it safe?

    Be very careful about what kind of access you give apps. To do that, closely at what you’re agreeing to when you sign up.

    For example, when you sign up for, you’re giving the service the ability to read, send, delete, and manage your email. This is a good time to ask yourself: Does the service really need all of these permissions? Do I trust this service?

  • 19 Apr 2017 10:14 AM | Rick West

    Since 2010, mobile solutions firm Field Agent has been on a mission to “change the way the world collects business information and insights.”

    Today marks another milestone in revolutionizing how companies learn about their in-store products, operations, and competition.Jicco Search Engine: Instant Answers to Pressing Retail Questions


    Introducing Jicco, the first on-demand, retail search engine, designed to furnish business professionals with “instant answers to pressing retail questions.” As reported by Supermarket News, the search engine will change how retailers, brands, and agencies obtain real-time answers about store-level promotions, pricing, on-shelf availability, competitive activity, and shopper sentiment.


    Jicco Testimonial by Danni-Lynn Kilgallen, National Retail Account Manager, Energizer Holdings


    “Professionals across the retail and branded goods industry are strapped for time and under considerable pressure to have all the answers," said Rick West, CEO and co-founder of Field Agent. "We’ve merged our efficient mobile crowdsourcing system with a simple search engine interface to create the world’s fastest way to get real answers from the field.”  

    Dan O'Shea, contributing editor at Retail Diveagreed with West about the hurried nature of retail and the need for fast answers:

    "West is right about the challenges facing many retail professionals, and as these folks jump between projects and try to keep all of their plates spinning, having fingertip access to some relevant data certainly will help them. Why shouldn't retailers get a curated portion of the internet all their own, right?"

    Currently in beta testing with plans to roll out nationally in April, Jicco is already being used by hundreds of brands, retailers, and agencies to acquire on-demand answers from stores across the country.


     Jicco Testimonial by Brian Stormes, Field Vice President, Henkel Consumer Goods

    How Jicco Works

    Users will simply visit, type in a basic question about in-store conditions, and, within minutes, watch as photos, information, and shopper feedback begin streaming in from stores across the country. That easy.

    Jicco Search Engine: Instant Answers to Pressing Retail Questions

    Sample questions could include:

    • What’s the price of store-brand toothpaste at Kroger?
    • What does the special Tide detergent display look like at Walmart?
    • What signage stands out most in the baby products aisle at Target?    

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper tested the search engine and reported receiving an answer within 17 minutes: "That rapid response can be critical for companies, that are often in need of data quickly and may not be able to fan out fast enough to get it," the paper stated.

    According to West, Jicco harnesses Field Agent’s retail expertise, proven technology, and all-mobile “crowd” of more than one million shoppers to more quickly connect companies with their widespread products and operations.

    Jicco has been in the making for the last seven years,” he said. “In that time we’ve built an extensive mobile crowdsourcing system, which Jicco will now leverage to answer store-level questions with unprecedented speed and ease.”    

    Read the Official Press Release.

  • 07 Mar 2017 4:07 PM | Rick West

    Hey, Alexa.

    Hey, Siri.

    Hey, Google.

    “Intelligent personal assistants” are revolutionizing how we obtain information, manage our households, and entertain ourselves.

    But, will IPAs—and the devices they live in: Amazon Echo, Apple iPhone, Google Home—ever become a go-to method for shopping and transacting purchases?

    Do Echo Owners Make Purchases Through the “Smart Speaker”?


    This weekend, mobile solutions firm Field Agent surveyed 318 certified Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap owners. Our ultimate purpose was to determine whether Alexa-users are utilizing the IPA to shop for and make purchases, and the full results are now available in our free, downloadable report: “Shopping with Alexa.”

    Click to download Shopping with Alexa - Survey Reveals Purchase Behavior of Echo Owners


    See Also: Will Drone Delivery Fly with Shoppers? Download the report, “Buy & Fly Retail”!


    Participating agents were required to capture video and photos of their Echo—meaning every participant in the survey was a bona fide Alexa-user, carefully verified through Field Agent's quality control process. 

    Field Agent’s free, downloadable report, “Shopping with Alexa,” includes several additional insights:

    • Attitudes toward shopping with Alexa
    • Top Alexa-based purchases
    • Most popular brand names—Domino's? Uber? Campbell's?—among Alexa “skills”
    • Reasons why some say they're apprehensive to shop with Alexa

    The complete report is now available for free. Download it today!

    And be sure to subscribe to the Field Agent Blog, recently ranked in the top 10 of Feedspot’s best market research blogs on the planet.

    Download Free Shopping With Alexa Report

  • 04 Mar 2017 2:45 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    From SSI blog Feb 24, 2017

    Mobile phones offer researchers critical features: the ability to gather visual information through photos and video recordings. These features can help researchers develop a much more nuanced understanding of context and customer behavior. The practice of mobile visual ethnography—using pictures and videos to gather important context clues about consumer behavior—is growing. What is Ethnography and… Continue reading →

  • 03 Mar 2017 3:52 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    Mark Michelson, Executive Director of MMRA gives his view on current mobile qualitative platforms and iPhone apps.

    Click here to view webinar recording

    Or copy and paste this URL in your browser:

  • 03 Mar 2017 12:55 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    Check out the latest use of voice recognition with Mobile/IoT technology in this post. Are you ready for the future of MobileMR beyond the smart phone?

  • 03 Mar 2017 9:03 AM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    I recently watched this webinar presented by SSI and Greenbook on leveraging the power of mobile to understand the customer journey. 

    There are some terrific mobile benefits, study design tips and case studies featured in this webinar. Check it out by clicking the link below:

    Click here for the SSI Customer Journey Webinar

    Or copy and paste this URL in your browser:

  • 02 Mar 2017 8:51 AM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    Link to Original Article - - Feb. 23rd 2017 4:03 am PT 

    More areas of the country are likely to see gigabit LTE, say carriers, as the FCC has approved the use of the 5GHz spectrum for mobile data.

    The 5GHz band is currently used for WiFi, and there had been concerns that there would be conflicts between the two, but the FCC accepted that equipment manufacturers had demonstrated that LTE and WiFi could co-exist in the same spectrum …

    “LTE-U and Wi-Fi stakeholders worked together under the auspices of the Wi-Fi Alliance to develop co-existence guidelines and an evaluation test plan that was released last fall,” pointed out FCc Chief Engineer Julius Knapp.

    Testing showed that mobile data networks can automatically reduce their usage of the 5GHz band in areas where there is heavy WiFi usage, and ramp it up in areas where the spectrum is under-used.

    LTE-U is so called because it refers to a spectrum that is currently unlicensed. The FCC’s approval of devices operating within this band does not amount to licensing it, but rather to an acceptance that use of the spectrum does not prohibit device approvals. Essentially, both WiFi and LTE industry players have said it’s ok, and the FCC is happy with that.

    Multichannel News reports that carriers are excited by the prospects LTE-U will bring. T-Mobile said that it will start using the spectrum in the spring to bring gigabit LTE to more areas, and Verizon says it will mean customers are able to use more data at faster speeds.

    There’s no telling when iPhones will support the LTE-U band. Historically, Apple tends to be a little slower than most to adopt new data standards, but it’s almost certain to do so at point.

    Ben Lovejoy @benlovejoy

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