Thumb Typers Know Exactly What to Do: Okay, Not So Much

December 29, 2020

I read “More Info is Available about Which College Majors Pay Off, But Students Aren’t Using It.” This is a surprise? Nope, but it is “real” news. I noted this statement:

“What we find is that they’re not changing their majors,” Troutman [an expert in this subject] said. “They’re following their passions.”

Passions like van life, a digital emulation of riding a camel in the desert waiting for their Lawrence of Arabia to deliver a payoff?

The Bezos publication points out:

But even as this information becomes more readily available, there’s consensus that students generally aren’t consulting it when deciding where to go and what to study.

But what about students who don’t pick a major which “pays off”?

The write up states:

That students don’t know their likely future incomes well before they graduate is particularly surprising given that getting a good job is now the No. 1 reason they say they go to college, according to a nationwide survey of freshmen by an institute at the University of California at Los Angeles — edging out “learn[ing] more about things that interest me” — and that 84 percent said it was very important or essential to them to be financially very well off.

Maybe journalism? Alternatively another Bezos linked entity is hiring for warehouse work or artificial intelligence development.

Stephen E Arnold, December 29, 2020

Zuckasar and Bezoder or Caeberg and Alexos?

December 24, 2020

I spotted this image in Google Images. Miraculously I was able to locate it by querying “Zuckerberg Caesar.” Bingo.


The idea is that the Facebook poobah seems to look like the Big J. As you will recall, some of his friends allegedly unliked the Ruler of the World using real knives, not unfollows.

I read “Jeff Bezos Reportedly Considers Himself the Alexander the Great of Modern Exploitation.” The source of this revelation in tottering Oxford don or donette (no, not a donut, gentle reader). The insight appears in an online information service called Jezebel which recycled an interview from an alleged Amazon whiz person.

I learned:

According to an Amazon cybersecurity engineer who spoke anonymously and quite candidly with Logic Magazine, working at Amazon is much more Philip K. Dick than it is Plutarch, despite Jeff Bezos’s boner for Alexander the Great:

“Jeff Bezos studies other “great men” in history and imagines himself to be a kind of Alexander the Great. There’s even a building on the Amazon campus called Alexandria, which was the name of one of the company’s early projects to get every single book that had ever been published to be listed on Amazon.”

image image

I see the resemblance. Uncanny. The mosaic reminds me of the thousands of AWS services which contribute to Mr. Bezos’ wealth.

One question: Why are these business leaders embracing the war fighters and dictators of yesteryear?

There are other helpful models; for example:


JP Morgan is a potential role model.

The ancient history thing may not be about money. Perhaps the appeal is for the allure of power and the world domination thing. Interesting. I am looking forward to Messrs. Zuckerberg and Bezos commissioning Bernadette Banner. She can create the Big J armor for the Zuck and come up with a period correct outfit from 370 BC for Mr. Bezos.

Great for live streaming when the monopoly hearings become available. Perfect for Shopify T shirt vendors and TikTok snippets with Wal-Mart adverts.

Stephen E Arnold, December 24, 2020

The Amazon Bracelet: Is It Like Those Shock Collars Thingies?

December 24, 2020

A pair of Washington Post reviewers tell us exactly how they feel about the recent entry into the fitness-tracker market. Greenwich Time shares, “Amazon’s New Health Band Is the Most Invasive Tech We’ve Ever Tested.” Geoffrey A Fowler and Heather Kelly write:

“Amazon has a new health-tracking bracelet with a microphone and an app that tells you everything that’s wrong with you. You haven’t exercised or slept enough, reports Amazon’s $65 Halo Band. Your body has too much fat, the Halo’s app shows in a 3-D rendering of your near-naked body. And even: Your tone of voice is ‘overbearing’ or ‘irritated,’ the Halo determines, after listening through its tiny microphone on your wrist. Hope our tone is clear here: We don’t need this kind of criticism from a computer. The Halo collects the most intimate information we’ve seen from a consumer health gadget – and makes the absolute least use of it. This wearable is much better at helping Amazon gather data than at helping you get healthy and happy.”

Yes, in addition to basics like heart rate, skin temperature, activity, and sleep, this late entry to the market collects information its rivals do not—body photos and voice recordings. Despite that, it offers surprisingly little in the way of personalized advice. Are its users simply paying for the privilege of feeding Amazon’s machine-learning databases? The reviewers also found that, compared to competitors, the device seems less accurate in its measurements. Furthermore, the band has no display—a corresponding phone app is the only way to receive feedback. It also scores one’s progress in an what appears to be an arbitrary 150-point scale that did little to motivate these reviewers.

And what of that tone-of-voice functionality? Apparently having the AI divine one’s mood is supposed to help the user somehow, but the reviewers found it to be mostly a judgmental downer. Not only that but, like many algorithms, it may have a gender bias problem. We’re told:

“The terms diverged when we filtered just for ones with negative connotations. In declining order of frequency, the Halo described Geoffrey’s tone as ‘sad,’ ‘opinionated,’ ‘stern,’ and ‘hesitant.’ Heather, on the other hand, got ‘dismissive,’ ‘stubborn,’ ‘stern’ and ‘condescending.’ She doesn’t dispute she might have sounded like that, especially while talking to her children. But some of the terms, including ‘overbearing’ and ‘opinionated,’ hit Heather differently than they might a male user. The very existence of a tone-policing AI that makes judgment calls in those terms feels sexist. Amazon has created an automated system that essentially says, ‘Hey sweetie, why don’t you smile more?’”

Perhaps Amazon should go back to the drawing board with this one. That is, if it is as interested in serving its customers as in feeding its algorithms.

Cynthia Murrell, December 24, 2020

Seeking Clarity? Amazon AWS Can Provide It

December 17, 2020

AWS increases their AI and machine learnings technology offerings everyday. While AWS is one of the leading providers for AI-powered technology it has yet to overcome AI’s limitations. One of the biggest issues facing AI-powered technology is bias. The best examples of AI bias are facial recognition studies that lack diverse ethnic examples (e.g. black, white, Asian, etc. people).

Amazon developed a solution for bias: Amazon SageMaker Clarify, a tool designed for machine learning developers to gain deeper insight into training data and models to detect bias and explain predictions. Amazon SageMaker Clarify works by:

“SageMaker Clarify is integrated with Amazon SageMaker Data Wrangler, making it easier to identify bias during data preparation. You specify attributes of interest, such as gender or age, and SageMaker Clarify runs a set of algorithms to detect any presence of bias in those attributes. After the algorithm runs, SageMaker Clarify provides a visual report with a description of the sources and measurements of possible bias so that you can identify steps to remediate the bias. For example, in a financial dataset that contains only a few examples of business loans to one age group as compared to others, SageMaker will flag the imbalance so that you can avoid a model that disfavors that age group.”

Eliminating bias detection is a major holdup in AI technology, but SageMaker Clarify is a step in the right direction. Other AI players, including Google, Microsoft, and Apple, are developing their own ways to detect bias.

Whitney Grace, December 17, 2020

Clouds Hide a Basic Truth: Rebuilding Mandatory

December 10, 2020

I read “There Must Be a Better Way to Build on AWS.”

Here’s the passage I noted:

The real cost of going with AWS is its complexity. There is hardly anything more important to an early-stage startup than moving fast, but this is exactly where AWS fails startup founders. It is hard to set up and manage, which is the opposite of fast.

The article spells out a truth which gets modest coverage in the zip zip world of headline feeds:

So startup founders are forced to choose whether to bite the bullet with AWS, or to move fast and pay a premium for tools like Firebase — only to have to rebuild from scratch later anyway.

I think this is an interesting observation. Amazon AWS has several “hooks” to lure innovators. These must be factored into the Bezos bulldozer’s operations manual:

  1. Lock in. Amazon has generated a 21st century version of the IBM lock in model.
  2. Radar pings. Innovators on Amazon can get a financial break. Amazon gets an opportunity to see what works.
  3. A stealthy bulldozer. Innovators may not hear Amazon coming. Why? The old school corporate machines ran on noisy diesel engines. Amazon’s bulldozer is electric, thus, it is quiet unless one hears the sound of objects being crushed.

Net net: Useful article with a great punch line. Build on Amazon only to rebuild another way. Efficient? Sure, do the work twice.

Stephen E Arnold, December 10, 2020

AWS Panorama: Such a Happy Name!

December 2, 2020

AWS Announces Panorama, a Device That Adds Machine Learning Technology to Any Camera” caught my attention. (Now don’t think I ignored Amazon’s work monitoring system called Monitron, a wonderful name, very Robo Cop like. I have not.) I noted the word “all” in the title. Very wide in scope. Appropriate in an era of data harvesting. Also, I quite liked the “appliance” moniker. What could me more appropriate for a company with more than one million employees, oodles of government contracts with assorted nation states, and customers hungry to know as much as possible about humanoids and other entities of interest? A toaster, a data Hoover, a device to exploit the info-pressure differential between those with the gizmo and those monitored by the gizmo.

The write up states:

…enterprises continue to clamor for new machine learning-enabled video recognition technologies for security, safety and quality control. Indeed, as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, new protocols around building use and occupancy are being adopted to not only adapt to the current epidemic, but plan ahead for spaces and protocols that can help mitigate the severity of the next one.

And law enforcement and intelligence applications? Whoops. Not included in the write up nor in the AWS blog post. Amazon is not in the policeware and intelware business. At least, that’s what I have been told.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2020

Amazon Zoom: This Is Just Not Important, Right?

December 2, 2020

Zoom and Amazon Extend Partnership for the Future of Online Communication” explains that “Zoom is coming to an Amazon Echo Show.” Makes sense, right? The article reports:

The new collaboration extends the companies’ existing relationship, which will now see AWS working to expand and scale Zoom’s services to meet customer demand.

What does the write up omit? A couple of things; for instance:

  • What type of data will Amazon AWS log files capture?
  • How quickly will AWS “zoomification” diffuse to other video applications?
  • What Zoom data will be subject to cross correlation in Amazon’s streaming data marketplace?

No answers in the write up or from either Amazon or Zoom yet. This announcement is not important, right?

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2020

Amazon Policeware: Despite Low Profile It Exists

November 25, 2020

Navigate to the trustworthy Berkshire Hathaway Company Businesswire. Read “IPR Center, Amazon Launch ‘Operation Fulfilled Action’ to Stop Counterfeits.” Note that IPR means U.S. government’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. Here’s a passage I found interesting:

“Amazon conducts investigations and sidelines inventory if we suspect a product may be counterfeit, ensuring our customers are protected,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vice president, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Amazon. “But we also know that counterfeiters don’t just attempt to offer their wares in one store, they attempt to offer them in multiple places. Now, by combining intelligence from Amazon, the IPR Center, and other agencies, we’re able to stop counterfeits at the border, regardless of where bad actors were intending to offer them. We appreciate the partnership from the IPR Center and other agencies to protect American consumers and prosecute bad actors.”

Investigations? Yep. Read on.

In an effort to protect consumers, this joint operation will analyze data and conduct targeted inspections aimed at preventing counterfeit products from entering the U.S. supply chain. The IPR Center and Amazon will leverage evidence obtained during the operation to expand on-going investigations, with the goal of holding bad actors accountable to the fullest extent of the law. This operation will be led by Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, which was created earlier this year to support law enforcement investigations and to initiate civil litigation against counterfeiters.

To learn more about Amazon policeware and intelware, write benkent2020 at yahoo dot com. The DarkCyber research team offers a one hour, for fee Zoom lecture about this interesting and now quite public Amazon capability.

Plus, I found the name “fulfilled action” fulfilling.

Stephen E Arnold, November 25, 2020

Amazon and the Cyber Security Industrial Complex

November 24, 2020

This is probably no big deal. Cyber security, threat intelligence, and wonky proprietary tools from startups populated by retired or RIFed intel officers are a big business. I was asked by a “real news” reporter, “How big?” I dutifully sent links to companies selling market forecasts for global cyber security revenues. How big were these numbers? Acquisition big. The hypothesis I have formulated is that when wild and crazy market size projections fly like hungry sparrows, there is a revenue problem. Specifically there are too many sparrows chasing available bugs and bread crumbs. That’s why Blackberry is in the cyber security business. Why LookingGlass stepped away from Cyveillance. That’s why Dark Web indexes of bad actors’ Crime as a Service offerings are a dime a dozen.

It is, therefore, no surprise that the write up “Trend Micro integrates with AWS Network Firewall” explains that Amazon is continuing to add to its pool of 65,000 plus partners. Many of these outfits like Palantir Technologies are in the cyber intelligence and cyber threat business. Bad actors beware.

The write up reports:

Trend Micro’s built-in IPS intelligence will inspect traffic for malicious intent so that the firewall can stop threats before they get a foothold in a virtual private cloud. Together, AWS and Trend Micro offer a simple, scalable service with reliable protection that does not require any infrastructure management.

What’s the hook? Here’s the statement I circled with an Amazon happy face:

Trend Micro’s threat intelligence will be available free with easy deployment for AWS Network Firewall customers.

What do I make of free cyber security services? No much but I hear the Bezos bulldozer pulling into the cyber intelligence and security services shopping mall. Roll up or roll over time for the cheerful orange machine with a big smile painted on the cab.

Stephen E Arnold, November 24, 2020

Amazon: Glue to Bind Customers to the Bezos Bulldozer

November 13, 2020

Amazon has made public its Glue service. The idea is that messy data can be cleaned up or normalized without writing code. The service is part of the Amazon “no code” or “low code” approach. According to “Announcing AWS Glue DataBrew – A Visual Data Preparation Tool That Helps You Clean and Normalize Data Faster”:

AWS Glue DataBrew is available, a visual data preparation tool that helps you clean and normalize data up to 80% faster so you can focus more on the business value you can get. DataBrew provides a visual interface that quickly connects to your data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Redshift, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), any JDBC accessible data store, or data indexed by the AWS Glue Data Catalog. You can then explore the data, look for patterns, and apply transformations. For example, you can apply joins and pivots, merge different data sets, or use functions to manipulate data.

How useful will the service be to companies deploying intelware on the AWS platform? Very useful. GeoSpark Analytics-type firms have been using AWS for their advanced content systems.

The good news is that the service is more widely available.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2020

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