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On November 15, 2018, Devin commented on Is the Future of Food Blockchain? :

This is an excellent read. I think blockchain in the food industry will also prevent or limit the reach of major food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or the Norovirus. By being able to trace the source of the outbreak, they can more easily shutdown certain distributors and remove the contaminated products. This will limit waste and loss, while ensuring that their trust with the customer is left intact.

On November 15, 2018, Devin commented on Disney – “A Whole New World” of Machine Learning :

This is an excellent article, providing perspective between the tension of art and science. Since Disney has always been a leader in technology, I think they are onto something here. Although some signals may be misinterpreted, I think the advantage is the democratization of movie scripts. Because of the shear amount of movie scripts, there are many talented writers that go unnoticed. The best writers are ones that can captivate a person who has some authority to produce their script, which only a select few may successfully accomplish. The key for Disney is to be willing to take risky bets to stress test their ML platform. If they only use the platform as a justification and approval platform for blockbuster movies, their movies may become stale and homogenous. This can be seen already with some of their Star Wars spin-offs.

“They’re not doing the kind of analysis that needs to be done, so they’re making the same errors again and again,” says Patricia McGinnis of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. I found this quote to be powerful. As someone who worked in nursing homes in a different life, the feedback loop is incomplete in nursing care. These are due to overworked and underpaid staff, poor communication between the caregivers and patients, and the lack of focusing on quality over quantity. I think any way you can provide electronic sources to combat against problems associated with quality of life for our aging population will be advantageous over the long run. The key is working with regulators early to prevent violations with HIPPA compliance, while still moving fast into the market space. Further, I would work with Medicare to subsidize this product to make it a viable solution for all types of nursing home facilities.

I am very interested with the question about sustainability. Although their information is proprietary, I wonder how easily replicable their AI/ML platform would be? If competitors are able to come close to processing and determining the same outcomes with their own platform, then I see their advantages to significantly decrease. I imagine that their platform is difficult to replicate, and will grow in complexity as their data sets become richer and their AI becomes more advance. But as companies rely heavily on AI/ML, they should be aware of their competitive advantages and seek opportunities to minimize competition in the space.

On November 15, 2018, Devin commented on Challenge.Gov – A Model for Government Crowdsourcing :

First of all, thank you for the excellent article. I think that open innovation platforms are an excellent tool for slower, bureaucratic institutions (e.g. the federal government). These institutions face problems innovative and iterating rapidly. However, I see problems when implementing the solutions put forth by local citizens. In part, this is due to the lack of STEM employees within the organization and the lack of leadership with strong STEM backgrounds. Open innovative platforms will open the flood gates to innovative solutions (an excellent outcome), but these innovative solutions may lack movement, creating even more disillusionment with the Government among the citizenry. Last, the ties to RFPs are a good start, but I think the Government would be best served if they could move these initiatives forward through local voting initiatives and by providing full transparency of the process.

This was an excellent article. Although not the target demographic for Sephora, I have shopped in these stores for gifts. From the unexperienced shopper’s perspective, these stores can be daunting and overwhelming because of the sheer amount of SKUs and variety of options. I find that the value in AI/ML will be parsing through the intense amount of data that inundates consumers today to find targeted solutions that consumers find valuable. This, along with targeted media (e.g. make-up tutorials, videos, tips), will continue to create a stronger sense of brand loyalty to Sephora. Further, there is value in the retail experience, for example trialibilaity and awareness. My biggest concern is finding the right balance between the retail and online experience.