Seventeen Visions of the Future From Microsoft Researchers

March 31, 2017

Here’s a bit of PR from Microsoft that could pay off in many ways, should the company be wise enough to listen to these women. Microsoft’s blog posts, “17 for ’17: Microsoft Researchers on What to Expect in 2017 and in 2027.” As part of their Computer Science Education Week, the company shares 17 well-informed perspectives on the future of tech, presented by 17 talented researchers. On the way to introducing these insights, the post reminds us:

In this ‘age of acceleration,’ in which advances in technology and the globalization of business are transforming entire industries and society itself, it’s more critical than ever for everyone to be digitally literate, especially our kids. This is particularly true for women and girls who, while representing roughly 50 percent of the world’s population, account for less than 20 percent of computer science graduates in 34 OECD countries, according to this report. This has far-reaching societal and economic consequences.

Consequences like a worldwide shortage of qualified computer scientists, which could be eased by a surge of women entering the field. That’s why they call personnel management ”human resources,” after all.

We are pleased to see one particular researcher on the list, Sue Dumais, who happens to be an alum of the historic Bell Labs. Dumais now works as deputy managing director at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, lab. Her view for 2017 makes perfect sense—more progress in, and reliance upon, deep learning models. Among other things, she expects these models to continue improving internet search results. What about further down the road? Here’s Dumais’ vision:

What will be the key advance or topic of discussion in search and information retrieval in 2027?

The search box will disappear. It will be replaced by search functionality that is more ubiquitous, embedded and contextually sensitive. We are seeing the beginnings of this transformation with spoken queries, especially in mobile and smart home settings.  This trend will accelerate with the ability to issue queries consisting of sound, images, or video, and with the use of context to proactively retrieve information related to the current location, content, entities, or activities without explicit queries.

The post urges readers to share this list, in the hope that it will inspire talented kids of all genders to pursue careers in computer science.

Cynthia Murrell, March 31, 2017

Whither the Tech Industry Under Trump Administration?

March 30, 2017

The Silicon-Valley-based tech industry has done quite well under the Obama administration, we’re reminded in the Hill’s article, “Tech’s Power Shifts as Obama fades to Trump.” Lobbying efforts by internet companies have escalated over the past eight years, catching up to the traditional telecommunications industry. Writers Ali Breland and David McCabe quote a mysterious source:

‘Everybody is amazed by Google’s sort of cozy relationship with the White House,’ said one communications industry insider who asked to remain anonymous. ‘They don’t even try to hide it.’

Ah, dear Google. What now?

The writers cite Noah Theran, of the Internet Association—a group that represents Google, Twitter, and Amazon—as they emphasize the importance of working closely with government. If policy makers don’t understand what is happening in the tech industry, it will be nigh impossible for them to regulate it sensibly.

To complicate matters, apparently, these upstart internet companies have ruffled the feathers of the old-school telecoms, who seem to believe the FCC and Obama administration unfairly favored their new rivals, Google in particular. The article continues:

The tension wasn’t always present. Silicon Valley at one point had famously dismissed Washington, D.C., assessing that it could be the new capital of change in the U.S. That attitude shifted as the tech industry saw a greater need to work with Washington. A touchstone was the Justice Department antitrust suit against Microsoft. After having to appeal an initial order to break into two separate business, Microsoft quickly learned that it needed to have a Washington, D.C. presence if it wanted to preemptively ease regulatory problems later on. …

Trump’s presidency may change how the battles play out for the next four to eight years, however. Trump has had a rockier relationship with some tech companies, including Apple. He at one point during the campaign suggested a boycott of the company’s products over its encrypted phone.

Hoo boy. Hang on to your hats, technology-supporters; this could be a bumpy ride.

Cynthia Murrell, March 30, 2017

Alternative (Aka Fake) News Not Going Anywhere

March 29, 2017

The article titled The Rise of Fake News Amidst the Fall of News Media on Silicon Valley Watcher makes a convincing argument that fake news is the inevitable result of the collective failure to invest in professional media. The author, Tom Foremski, used to write for the Financial Times. He argues that the almost ongoing layoffs among professional media organizations such as the New York Times, Salon, The Guardian, AP, Daily Dot, and IBT illustrate the lack of a sustainable business model for professional news media. The article states,

People won’t pay for the news media they should be reading but special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want them to read. We have important decisions to make about a large number of issues such as the economy, the environment, energy, education, elder healthcare and those are just the ones that begin with the letter “E” — there’s plenty more issues. With bad information we won’t be able to make good decisions. Software engineers call this GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out.

This issue affects us all; fake news even got a man elected to the highest office in the land.  With Donald Trump demonstrating on a daily basis that he has no interest in the truth, whether, regarding the size of the crowds at his inauguration or the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, the news industry is already in a crouch. Educating people to differentiate between true and false news is nearly impossible when it is so much easier and more comfortable for people to read only what reconfirms their worldview. Foremski leaves it up to the experts and the visionaries to solve the problem and find a way to place a monetary value on professional news media.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 29, 2017

Beta-Stage Video Sharing Platform BitChute Tosses Gauntlet at YouTube

March 28, 2017

The article on ITWire titled BitChute: The First Serious YouTube Competitor? touts the new video sharing platform, BitChute. Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad, neither has anyone else, it is still in the beta stage. But the article argues that BitChute’s peer-to-peer technology may make it a serious threat to YouTube. YouTube has always had the upper hand when it came to centralized servers, especially since being acquired by Google, due to its enormous resources. The article explains how BitChute may challenge YouTube,

An example of the peer-to-peer model being used to scale up online is the creation of Skype in 2003. By 2012, Skype, the first Internet telephony application to use peer-to-peer technology, had carved out a market share of more than 30%. Not only does BitChute use different technology, its principles are clearly outlined in its FAQ, in which it is revealed that the website’s existence is in response to YouTube’s failure to cater to independent content creators.

BitChute broadcasts its disruptive intentions in the FAQs, setting up a David and Goliath archetype. YouTube’s strike system, which goes by the honor code more than anything else, alongside its history of demonetization of advertisements, plays directly into the hands of a company like BitChute. The startup calls for freedom of expression, decentralization, and customized pairings for monetization.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 28, 2017

HonkinNews Special Report for 28 March 2017

March 28, 2017

This week’s HonkinNews ( provides information about Stephen E Arnold’s new report Dark Web Notebook: Investigative Tools and Tactics for Law Enforcement, Security and Intelligence Organizations. The video presents a six minute summary of the 10 sections of the Notebook, the appendices, and information about purchasing. The program contains several important announcements related to his Dark Web work:

  1. He is making a return to live, in person lectures at law enforcement and intelligence conferences. Information is at Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference, June 4-7, 2017.
  2. He is announcing the his Dark Web Basics lecture and his Dark Web Vendor Systems lectures have been updated to include important techniques and law enforcement and intelligence software
  3. A live tutorial is available. Attendees may bring their own Windows laptop. Stephen provides each hands on tutorial attendee with [a] an untraceable prepaid debit card, [b] a clean email address not linked to the tutorial user, [c] prepaid hotspot connectivity via Karma, O2, and T-Mobile, a USB key preloaded and bootable with TAILS and support software.
  4. He is making the Dark Web Notebook available at a special pre-publication price of $99, regular price $149.

HonkinNews reveals that Stephen E Arnold’s three hour, hands on tutorial for Dark Web access via TAILS, live access to selected Dark Web sites, and the procedure for acquiring Bitcoin without revealing an investigator’s identify will be presented. Attendees for this session must have proof that they are engaged in active investigations and intelligence work.

The video explains the scope of the Dark Web Notebook and highlights several aspects of the book which make it useful for those engaged in an active investigation or intelligence operation; for example, how to obtain an untraceable identity when best practices are followed, the method for obtaining specific information about Dark Web sites engaged in unlawful activities, and cleared third-party vendors able to provide Dark Web services for operations. Vendors are on procurement schedules such as GSA or DSA, among others.

The video walks through each section’s content and appendices. This week’s program explains that for individuals or organizations not part of a government entity, on-site tutorials, webinars, and formal training programs are available from Stephen E Arnold and the Dark Web Notebook team.

The video also announces that Stephen E Arnold will be lecturing and conducting training classes at the upcoming Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The program is available at

I have seen the video, and it is clear that Stephen’s presentations will be a popular part of the program at the conference. The information in the Dark Web Notebook is likely to be of interest because it provides recipes for Dark Web access, use of specialized software, and identify protection. The video includes urls and email addresses for those who are interested in attending his lectures in Myrtle Beach in June 2017 or in arranging a program for a specific audience.

You can access the video at this link:

Kenny Toth, March 28, 2017

Google Ads Misfire on

March 27, 2017

I have a site which I use to provide information to those who attend my law enforcement, intelligence, and security lectures and webinars. The site also has information about my books written specifically for law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

I don’t recall when we included Google ads on the site, but it has not been an issue until today, March 26, 2017. Google helpfully displayed for the visitors to the page for my new Dark Web Notebook:


Yep, an ad for Hot Latin Beauties Online. I understand that Google’s robot parsed the text about the book, which you can read at this link. That does not mean that I find the ad appropriate for my audience. Even the Jeff Bezos information service has figured out the disconnect.

The ad, appearing on a page for enforcement officials, sparked several thoughts:

  1. Google is really working overtime to burn up its advertising messages for the purpose of generating revenue. (No, I did not click on the link.) The ad’s presence illustrates what happens when concept matching simply does not work very well.
  2. The need for revenue is only part of the problem for the Google. Search has not been much of a concern for many years. The public statements about Google revisiting its systems and methods is talk. The presence of an ad which I find amusing illustrates that the company is happy to do some PR and merrily continue displaying content mismatched to the content on a Web page. Okay for me and my audience; maybe not so okay for a person uncomfortable with one click to Hot Latin Beauties Online.
  3. Google’s ability to fix this type of mismatch is going to be expensive and time consuming. The company has wrapped its search and retrieval core in layer upon layer of “smart” software. I am not sure the young Xooglers laboring on the various teams have the expertise or the motivation to figure out how the Rube Goldberg machine works.

My hunch is that one shot fixes will be the order of the day. Longer term, the GOOG has to either make the effort to work the concept disconnects or get in the hand-crafted rule business. Either way, the expense of making a meaningful fix is going to put pressure on the Google’s CFO “mom.”

Now if the GOOG can’t match ads with their software, what’s that suggest about Google’s ability to match on point, useful results to one’s query?

Answer: Google’s precision and recall is not too good. Exciting for “expert” Google searchers and the conclusions these folks draw based on access to the world’s information.

Hey, the Google is free. Stop your complaining. Yes, sir. By the way, Dark Web Notebook points its readers to far more interesting information than a link which generates this helpful message for Google’s paying customer:


High value click. Lucky Google advertiser. Spending money for this stuff. Clever, clumsy, tricky, or something else? Decide for yourself, gentle reader. Oh, the Dark Web Notebook is available only to those who can verify their employment with a law enforcement or intelligence agency of the US or one of its allies. Hot Latin ladies, sorry, not available no matter what Google’s term matching suggests.

Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2017

Intelligence Researchers Pursue Comprehensive Text Translation

March 27, 2017

The US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) is seeking programmers to help develop a tool that can quickly search text in over 7,000 languages. ArsTechnica reports on the initiative (dubbed the Machine Translation for English Retrieval of Information in Any Language, or MATERIAL) in the article, “Intelligence Seeks a Universal Translator for Text Search in Any Language.” As it is, it takes time to teach a search algorithm to translate each language. For the most-used tongues, this process is quite well-along, but not so for “low-resource” languages. Writer Sean Gallagher explains:

To get reliable translation of text based on all variables could take years of language-specific training and development. Doing so for every language in a single system—even to just get a concise summary of what a document is about, as MATERIAL seeks to do—would be a tall order. Which is why one of the goals of MATERIAL, according to the IARPA announcement, ‘is to drastically decrease the time and data needed to field systems capable of fulfilling an English-in, English-out task.’

Those taking on the MATERIAL program will be given access to a limited set of machine translation and automatic speech recognition training data from multiple languages ‘to enable performers to learn how to quickly adapt their methods to a wide variety of materials in various genres and domains,’ the announcement explained. ‘As the program progresses, performers will apply and adapt these methods in increasingly shortened time frames to new languages.’

Interested developers should note candidates are not expected to have foreign-language expertise. Gallagher notes that IARPA plans to publish their research publicly; he looks forward to wider access to foreign-language documents down the road, should the organization meet their goal.

Cynthia Murrell, March 27, 2017

Alphabet Google Falls on Its Algorithms

March 24, 2017

Here in Harrod’s Creek, advertising is mostly hand painted signs nailed to telephone poles in front of trailer parks.

Real Advertising in Big Cities Does This

In the LED illuminated big cities, people advertise by:

  1. Cooking up some keywords that are used to locate products and services like mesothelioma or cheap tickets
  2. Paying money to the “do no evil” outfit Alphabet Google to put those ads in front of people who are searching (sometimes cluelessly) for a topic related to lung disease or flying to the land of milk and honey for a couple of hundred bucks
  3. Alphabet Google putting the ads in front of humans (or software robots as the case may be) who will click on the displayed message, banner, or video snippet
  4. The GOOG collects the money
  5. The advertiser gets leads
  6. Repeat the process.

The notion, like digital currencies, is based on trust. Advertisers trust or “believe” that the GOOG’s smart software will recognize a search for Madrid will require an airplane ticket and maybe a hotel. The GOOG’s smart software consults the ads germane to travel and displays a relevant ad in front of the human (or software robot as the case may be).

goofed for content

What happens when the GOOG’s smart software does everything except the relevance part?

The reaction in the non Sillycon Valley business world is easy to spot; for example, here are some examples of the consequences of the reality of what the GOOG does versus what advertisers and other true believers in the gospel of Google collides with faith, trust, and hope:

I could list more stories about this sudden discovery that matching ads to queries is not exactly what some people have believed.

Read more

Quote to Note: The Role of US AI Innovators

March 24, 2017

I read “Opening a New Chapter of My Work in AI.” After working through the non-AI output, I concluded that money beckons the fearless leader, Andrew Ng. However, I did note one interesting quotation in the apologia:

The U.S. is very good at inventing new technology ideas. China is very good at inventing and quickly shipping AI products.

What this suggests to me is that the wizard of AI sees the US as good at “ideas”, and China an implementer. A quick implementer at that.

My take is that China sucks up intangibles like information and ideas. Then China cranks out products. Easy to monetize things, avoiding the question, “What’s the value of that idea, pal?”

Ouch. On the other hand, software is the new electricity. So who is Thomas Edison? I wish I “knew”.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2017

Diffeo Incorporates Meta Search Technology

March 24, 2017

Will search-and-discovery firm  Diffeo’s recent acquisition give it the edge? Yahoo Finance shares, “Diffeo Acquires Meta Search and Launches New Offering.” Startup Meta Search developed a local computer and cloud search system that uses smart indexing to assign index terms and keep the terms consistent. Diffeo provides a range of advanced content processing services based on collaborative machine intelligence. The press release specifies:

Diffeo’s content discovery platform accelerates research analysts by applying text analytics and machine intelligence algorithms to users’ in-progress files, so that it can recommend content that fills in knowledge gaps — often before the user thinks of searching. Diffeo acts as a personal research assistant that scours both the user’s files and the Internet. The company describes its technology as collaborative machine intelligence.

Diffeo and Meta’s services complement each other. Meta provides unified search across the content on all of a user’s cloud platforms and devices. Diffeo’s Advanced Discovery Toolbox displays recommendations alongside in-progress documents to accelerate the work of research analysts by uncovering key connections.

Meta’s platform integrates cloud environments into a single keyword search interface, enabling users to search their files on all cloud drives, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack and Evernote all at once. Meta also improves search quality by intelligently analyzing each document, determining the most important concepts, and automatically applying those concepts as ‘Smart Tags’ to the user’s documents.

This seems like a promising combination. Founded in 2012, Diffeo made Meta Search its first acquisition on January 10 of this year. The company is currently hiring. Meta Search, now called Diffeo Cloud Search, is based in Boston.

Cynthia Murrell, March 24, 2017

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta