Is AI really a threat?

“Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know.”

These words are from a speech delivered by Stephen Hawking at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last Monday. Unsurprisingly a lot of journalists have picked up on the more sensational parts of the speech, Fox news, for example, headlined “Stephen Hawking says artificial intelligence could 'destroy' humanity”. But this was not his main theme and has been taken somewhat out of context.

The speech is not exactly a new idea. On December the 2nd 2014 Hawking warned that AI "could spell the end of the human race". That same year Elon Musk claimed that AI is "our biggest essential threat".

Professor Hawking has been musing over this premise for some years. however, you could say that in many ways last Monday's speech was actually pro AI. Hawking was warning the group of engineers and techs that we need to think about what we are creating, not just the sophistication of the technology but what it could achieve. He said that AI could help to eradicate disease, end poverty, and reverse damage done to the planet. He was optimistic about the potential for a harmonious, beneficial human AI relationships. If we fail to adequately prepare for any potential pitfalls of AI, we may face “powerful autonomous weapons,” “new ways for the few to oppress the many,” or, “mother of all ills, economic disruption.” Although, as we all know, disruption can lead to innovation.

You could compare this to concerns about the self driving car. Yes AI can go wrong. It runs on GIGO, garbage in, garbage out. So, yes, the car could crash or veer off the road if fed inaccurate information. In creating the initial algorithms to develop any AI program great care has to be taken, as these concepts are coming from human brains not the AI per se. Initially it learns from us.

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google says not to fear the future of AI. "Go back to the history of the loom," Schmidt says. "There was absolute dislocation, but I think all of us are better off with more mechanized ways of getting clothes made." He adds, "There's lots of evidence that when computers show up, wages go up. There's lots of evidence that people who work with computers are paid more than people without."

Just think back to the 1980s. Mobile phones were new tech and the size of house bricks. Your appointments and contacts were kept in the latest trendy work accessory, the 60 year old Filofax. We communicated by typing documents up in WordPerfect, printing it out on a black and white dot matrix printer, and then faxing it. Now we think nothing of carrying a small, flat, touchscreen computer around with us that is more powerful than we could have imagined and, yes, also makes phone calls.

Artificial intelligence benefits

People already benefit from AI every day, Siri and Cortana are intelligent digital personal assistants that recognise your voice and serve you results that are tailored to your preferences. Banks use AI to check for fraud and email you if the program picks up any irregular movements. Even your on line grocery shop uses AI as your personal shopper to suggest products you might like based on your previous orders. This is just the beginning. In such cases, AI makes things easier for us, increasing our number of options. However, AI is still basing its actions on human decisions and requirements, where to search and what to look for.

AI controlled robots can help humans by performing tedious repetitive tasks, like processing census data, eliminating fatigue induced human error. They can limit human exposure to dangerous situations and materials, working in areas humans cannot get to. Intelligent robots could assist law enforcement in responding to acts of terrorism, stepping into harm’s way and protecting our police officers. In May this year, Dubai law enforcement enlisted their first robot police officer.

Artificial intelligence benefits

In general, AI apps and robots can provide humans with more time to do other work, saving resources and getting more done. We need to fully embrace AI and learn how best to use it and benefit from it. We are a long way from self aware AI robots who need the control of Asimov’s 3 rules. As Andrew Ng, Machine Learning Researcher & Chief Scientist at Baidu says “I don’t work on preventing artificial intelligence from going evil for the same reason I don’t work on solving the problem of overpopulation on the planet Mars.”
Addressing the group in Lisbon on Monday Hawking said, ““We need to employ effective management in all areas of its development,” he said. “We stand on a threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting, if precarious place to be and you are the pioneers.”

We might not be about to enter the perilous future conjured up in Aldous Huxley's dystopian masterpiece, but those of us that are embracing AI are indeed pioneers. Using AI to calculate property pricing is an innovative move forward, and not something to be treated with trepidation.


Acknowledgements: https://www.khaleejtimes.com
http://fortune.com
https://www.marketwatch.com
http://www.foxnews.com
Watch Stephen Hawking’s speech at the opening of the 3rd Websummit, Lisbon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-hcSLya0_w


If you would like to know more information about Houseprice.AI , Horizon, or access to our API please feel free to contact us at info@houseprice.ai.

This article was written as a guest blog for James Dearsley's Proptech blog site. http://www.jamesdearsley.co.uk


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New Reactive Valuation Report

Horizon introduces the most advanced property valuation report on the market.

Here is what’s new.

We have been listening to all our users feedback and we are now excited to share a cleaner, improved, more usable and readable value report. It is reactive to mobile and tablets and it still has the beloved features like area analytics, custom branding, chat, social media integration, 360 photo support and viewers tracking.

Horizon is designed for property professionals, estate agents, surveyors, investors and developers, our new amazing customised reactive marketing reports are fast and precise and are used to get objective information for key decisions in property buying, capital appreciation, development value and rental returns.

Horizon covers the entire UK and can value any property using AI. Click the button to see an example Buyers report.

Horizon delivers:

ComparablesNeighbourhood
Historical valuations Macro economics
Post to social mediaShare via E-mail
Live chat360 camera views
Real time report trackingReports branded with your Logo
Marketing AutomationIntegrate to your Website

Prediction accuracy

The Horizon App is powered by Houseprice.AI, the most accurate machine valuation model API to determine residential property values, forecast 3-year returns and to estimate rental returns.

Using Bigdata, Houseprice.AI MVM aggregates millions of data elements, including more than 20 years of property data and continuously evolving proprietary calculations and analytics, to accurately define and forecast values and market influences.

Big, clean data is required for the analytics we do. We have built, and will continue to build, the most complete property data set in the marketplace. Every data element we include is based on clear reasoning for why this factor matters. We monitor the most specific details about a given property, the broadest macroeconomic factors, and everything in between.

Uber Alleys

The news on Friday that Transport for London (TfL) had denied Uber an Operator Licence for the capital has stirred up some intense feelings. TfL announced Uber “not fit and proper” to hold a private hire licence and that the company had shown a “lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to public safety. As soon as the judgment was announced the company stated its intention to challenge the ruling in the courts and a petition was launched which is now well on the way to reaching 800,000 signatures. TfL are now saying Uber needs to rethink its approach.

Uber claim that 3.5 million Londoners rely on them to get around London, so we thought that we would look to see exactly where these Londoners are using the App. To do this we used Uber’s own API to get waiting times from 1000 randomly selected locations across Greater London that were within a 50 km radius of Charing Cross and cross referenced it against some known property metrics.

Uber Response Rates

Please click the map above to view our reactive study maps. You can click on the maps to reveal information, and double click on them and select areas.

So what did we find? Well overall across the random sample of 1000 covering the most of Greater London, the average response time was 432 seconds, or 7 min 12 seconds, however the attached visualization shows that much like property values, response times lengthened dramatically for a few postcodes the further away from Central London you travelled. This is not so surprising, you would expect more Ubers to be located in the busy central areas.

Please click the map to view our reactive study maps

However what is interesting is that actual response rates were very similar over a much larger area of London than you would expect and pretty fast too, with 2 to 3 minutes not unusual. The second chart shows the average price per square meter for properties in the same postcode areas. So if Uber were just used in central areas, you might expect the same distribution of response times as say, property prices/housing density, but as you can see, it is clearly not. In fact, response times in Outer London are very similar to Inner London and spread quite evenly, suggesting Ubers really are used by Londoners at pretty consistent levels all across the capital.
Uber Response Times Central London vs Outer London Please click the chart above to view our reactive study maps

As the chart above shows, even if you live in outer London (Green) you can have response times that are as fast as the most well served and expensive central areas (Red). So it would be very fair to say that if you are living in the most exclusive part of London, or indeed the cheapest bargain basement, in both cases your access to Uber in London's streets and alleys is about the same. That makes it a egalitarian mode of transport. This, all too often, is not the same for other modes of transportation across the capital that serve Londoners and suggests that TfL will need to rethink as much as Uber will have to smarten up its operations.

If you would like to see where the location you live ranks in London for Uber, or how other areas compare then please feel free to try out this link for our interactive charts on transportation and London property .

An extract of this blog post was written for http://www.jamesdearsley.co.uk/

Horizon and Social Media

Here at Houseprice.AI we want to help our Estate Agent clients to win those vital new instructions, so we have designed Horizon’s interactive and customised reports specifically to help you to achieve this. Click the image below to watch our short video.

Recently there are a few new features within Facebook that you may not be aware of and we are always happy to help you to enhance your posts and make the most of these features as we have years of experience!

There are also features that you can use built into other every day software such as Microsoft Office. Did you know that you can turn a simple Powerpoint of your images into an MP4? You can arrange photos and plans using a template and upload them to a video site such as Youtube or Vimeo and post that to your Horizon report, and your social media.

If you would like to know more hints and tips that will save you time and money please feel free to contact us through the online chatbox or by email at support@houseprice.ai.

Do catchment areas really matter?

Schools out for summer, yet many parents will be thinking about where their little darlings will be going to school in September. Looking through many school websites in the UK, the recurring message is that living in a catchment area does not guarantee a place at that school. This is repeatedly emphasised, and yet parents will go to extreme measures, even moving home, to get their child into their preferred school.

Whether this is the motive behind the move, or some more legitimate reason, it is beneficial if the estate agent can show suitable properties in the catchment area of choice, as it will still give the buyer an edge as an appeal can be raised. Most schools have a tie breaker where priority is still given to applicants living nearest.

Sheffield’s local authority website states “If no exceptional circumstances are present; admissions are prioritised by the straight line distance from the centre of the home to the centre of the school building.” Usually the measuring system is an integral part of the admission software, and uses Ordnance Survey maps and the Local Land Property Gazetteer so is accurate to 1 metre. Yes, you read that correctly, 1 meter can make a difference.


Each Local Authority has its own set of admissions policies. The school may already be oversubscribed with children from the attached infant school, those with an SEN, siblings at the school, or the children of staff members, all of whom have priority. The admissions criteria is set by the LEA and can change annually, so it is vital to use up to date information. Brent’s Authority website states: “New housing developments in Brent mean that catchment areas may change slightly.” So the flat your buyer was checking out last year might not get them the priority they think if a new block is raised closer to the school.”

When the downside is the upside

It gets crazier than this, the Kensington admissions appeal guide states that: “If applicants share the same address point … priority will be given to those who live closest to the ground floor and then by ascending flat number order. Routes will be measured to four decimal places.” So that basement flat might be worth more than the penthouse!

Horizon is continuously updated to ensure that the estate agent gives both client and buyer the most accurate information. The interactive reports that can be emailed through our app contain the most recent catchment information possible. Distances to nearby schools, the type of school and other contributing factors, such as transport links are all detailed.

Alternative Schools

From the buyers point of view sometimes being outside the catchment area of a popular local school has its advantages. Parents choosing a school based on their religious beliefs, a private school or specialised field can be shown properties further away. Foundation, voluntary aided and academy schools tend not to use catchment area as part of their admissions criteria. This means that the buyer can get more square meters for their round pound.

“As a Foundation School Governor of 7 years standing, I often saw parents suddenly discovering religion, attending the local church and even getting their children baptised in order to get priority admission to the church school”

We have looked at the school catchment areas through the eyes of parents buying a house, but those without children, young and old alike, benefit from the lower price distance brings. For the client it is always good to know the most current catchment areas as this will affect the sales price that they are likely achieve on their property and help the estate agent to clinch the deal.


For more information on Horizon contact: info@houseprice.ai 


Acknowledgements:
https://www.brent.gov.uk/services-for-residents/education-and-schools/information-about-admissions/school-catchment-areas/
https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/children-and-education/schools/join-school/admissions/appeals
https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/schools-childcare/apply-school-place

The Importance of Social Media in the Residential Property Market

Having a well polished web site is all well and good, but how much better is it for your client and their network, to receive regular reminders via social media apps that showcase your properties, drive them to your site and ultimately secure more sales?

Lets look at some stats. Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, corresponding to over 500 million tweets per day? On Facebook there were 1.94 billion monthly active users as of March 2017, 32 million user accounts just in the UK.

Social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin are of increasing importance in the residential property market, having the advantage of allowing notifications without ad blocking. When a user follows your page your posts are seen by people in their network, an easy way to get your latest featured property to a wider audience. Additionally, if linked correctly, your post takes the user to your website without the client needing to use a search engine, or your company needing a dedicated app.


Traditional Email versus Social Media Channels

So what does this mean for your e-mailed mailshots, will they fall out of fashion as much as big shoulder pads and the glossy A4 fliers of the 1980s? Deloitte’s 2016 Consumer Survey shows the reach of e-mail and apps are rising in parallel. Every smartphone comes with an email app, hence its popularity. It is a simple way to communicate, however, blanket group e-mails are both impersonal and counterproductive. Posting to your own Social Media page drives clients towards you and gives much wider and more targeted coverage.

The best of both worlds

The future lies in combining these tools, for example personalised mailshots, which link to fully interactive, cross platform compliant reports. Here at Houseprice.AI, our property app, Horizon, includes cutting edge interactive reports that can be e-mailed to your clients and also posted to social media for other followers to read, combining the best of both worlds. Horizon also has a smart feature that enables you to chat directly with your potential clients from the interactive report, whether they click on the e-mail link or the social media post. In fact these conversations are not only with clients that were e-mailed the report, but with any interested buyer who clicks on that post.

When To Post or Not To Post

It is important to establish the perfect balance of social media posts – just enough to keep people engaged, but not so much as to irritate them. Automatic and poorly scheduled posts that tweet the same post on the hour every hour quickly become tedious and a turn off. You can use Facebook and Twitter Analytics tools to make your posts more effective. For example Twitter statistics show that the most popular time to tweet is 12-1pm, the most read are first thing, and the most liked in the evening. Use the tools to help you decide what works best for your business.

There is no doubt that social media channels will play an increasingly important role in the marketing of property sales and lettings. These need to be quickly embraced and adapted as the powerful marketing and business generating vehicles they can be, and as forward thinking 21st century estate agents become hybrid agencies, with a presence in both virtual highways and local high streets.

For more information on Horizon contact: info@houseprice.ai 

Acknowledgements:
https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/bulletins/internetusers/2017
http://www.internetlivestats.com/twitter-statistics/
https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/
https://www.deloitte.co.uk/mobileuk