Data Mining Firm Cambridge Analytica Set to Capture Trump White House Communications Contract and Trump Organization Sales Contract

February 13, 2017

The article titled Data Firm in Talks for Role in White House Messaging — And Trump Business on The Guardian discusses the future role of Cambridge Analytica in both White House communication and the Trump Organization as well. Cambridge Analytica is a data company based out of London that boasts crucial marketing and psychological data on roughly 230 million Americans. The article points out,

Cambridge’s data could be helpful in both “driving sales and driving policy goals”, said the digital source, adding: “Cambridge is positioned to be the preferred vendor for all of that.”… The potential windfall for the company comes after the Mercers and Cambridge played key roles in Trump’s victory. Cambridge Analytica was tapped as a leading campaign data vendor as the Mercers… The Mercers reportedly pushed for the addition of a few top campaign aides, including Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, who became campaign manager.

Robert Mercer is a major investor in Cambridge Analytica as well as Breitbart News, Steve Bannon’s alt-right news organization. Steve Bannon is also on the board of Cambridge Analytica. The entanglements mount. Prior to potentially snagging these two wildly conflicting contracts, Cambridge Analytica helped Trump win the presidency with their data modeling and psychological profiling that focuses on building intimate relationships between brands and consumers to drive action.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 13, 2017

Cambridge Analytica: Applied Big Data

February 9, 2017

Cambridge University, not Stanford or Carnegie Mellon, is one of the academic institutions responsible for some of the most interesting content processing innovations. I often point to Cambridge’s role in the second world war. The magic of Bayesian statistics was a bit of a specialty for the fuddy duddies trundling near the banks of the Cam. i2 Group, Autonomy, and a host of other next generation content processing outfits took root and grew. Silicon Valley did not notice.

I was reminded of Cambridge’s role in figuring out what insights can be weaseled from algorithmic content processing when I read “The Data That Turned the World Upside Down.” The focus in the article is on the victory of Donald Trump, the dark art of psychometrics, and an outfit called Cambridge Analytica. You can get more information about the firm at this link.

The write up focuses on the dangers of making sense of Big Data. That’s okay, but danger may be in the eye of the beholder. The most interesting part of the write up was the realization that Facebook actions could provide clues to behavior. Interesting. Because systems which make sense of Facebook and Twitter content have been around for years. Moreover, these systems have been integrated into larger analytical platforms in wide use by law enforcement and intelligence entities for a while.

I learned from the write up:

Our smartphone…is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.

There you go. Sudden insight.

To learn how Donald Trump and politicians for Brexit used outputs from Cambridge Analytica, check out the source article.

Keep in mind that this method is not new. Over and out. Don’t forget to twitch your mantle blue. Sorrowful, no.

Stephen E Arnold, February 9, 2017

Presenting Watson as a Service

February 9, 2017

Every now and then, interest in Watson re-emerges. Forbes published a long-read recently entitled How IBM Is Building A Business Around Watson. After gaining press during Watson’s victorious Jeopardy face-off with Ken Jennings, Watson’s first commercial applications took off. IBM sold it to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Wellpoint to design an advisory system for its medical staff. Other medical institutions have purchased it since then. The author asserts,

Still, the potentially is undeniable. Think about how much more effective an ordinary doctor can be with Watson as an assistant. First, even before the patient enters the room, it can analyze their personal medical history, which often runs to hundreds of pages. Then, it can compare the case history with the 700,000 academic papers published every year as well as potentially millions of other patient records. All of this is, of course, beyond the capabilities of human doctors, who typically only get a few minutes to prepare for each examination. So being able to consult with Watson will be enormously helpful.

The real value is offering Watson as a service by providing its API, so that developers in organizations can develop their own applications using its technology. Over 550 partners are utilizing this currently for everything from retail to geolocation to travel agencies. Certainly, with all the hype Watson receives, we can only expect usage to grow.

Megan Feil, February 9, 2017

 

How to Quantify Culture? Counting the Bookstores and Libraries Is a Start

February 7, 2017

The article titled The Best Cities in the World for Book Lovers on Quartz conveys the data collected by the World Cities Culture Forum. That organization works to facilitate research and promote cultural endeavors around the world. And what could be a better measure of a city’s culture than its books? The article explains how the data collection works,

Led by the London mayor’s office and organized by UK consulting company Bop, the forum asks its partner cities to self-report on cultural institutions and consumption, including where people can get books. Over the past two years, 18 cities have reported how many bookstores they have, and 20 have reported on their public libraries. Hong Kong leads the pack with 21 bookshops per 100,000 people, though last time Buenos Aires sent in its count, in 2013, it was the leader, with 25.

New York sits comfortably in sixth place, but London, surprisingly, is near the bottom of the ranking with roughly 360 bookstores. Another measure the WCCF uses is libraries per capita. Edinburgh of all places surges to the top without any competition. New York is the only US city to even make the cut with an embarrassing 2.5 libraries per 100K people. By contrast, Edinburgh has 60.5 per 100K people. What this analysis misses out on is the size and beauty of some of the bookstores and libraries of global cities. To bask in these images, visit Bookshelf Porn or this Mental Floss ranking of the top 7 gorgeous bookstores.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 7, 2017

Visualizing a Web of Sites

February 6, 2017

While the World Wide Web is clearly a web, it has not traditionally been presented visually as such. Digital Trends published an article centered around a new visualization of Wikipedia, Race through the Wikiverse for your next internet search. This web-based interactive 3D visualization of the open source encyclopedia is at Wikiverse.io. It was created by Owen Cornec, a Harvard data visualization engineer. It pulls about 250,000 articles from Wikipedia and makes connections between articles based on overlapping content. The write-up tells us,

Of course it would be unreasonable to expect all of Wikipedia’s articles to be on Wikiverse, but Cornec made sure to include top categories, super-domains, and the top 25 articles of the week.

Upon a visit to the site, users are greeted with three options, each of course having different CPU and load-time implications for your computer: “Light,” with 50,000 articles, 1 percent of Wikipedia, “Medium,” 100,000 articles, 2 percent of Wikipedia, and “Complete,” 250,000 articles, 5 percent of Wikipedia.

Will this pave the way for web-visualized search? Or, as the article suggests, become an even more exciting playing field for The Wikipedia Game? Regardless, this advance makes it clear the importance of semantic search. Oh, right — perhaps this would be a better link to locate semantic search (it made the 1 percent “Light” cut).

Megan Feil, February 6, 2017

Counter Measures to Money Laundering

January 30, 2017

Apparently, money laundering has become a very complicated endeavor, with tools like Bitcoin “washers” available via the Dark Web. Other methods include trading money for gaming or other virtual currencies and “carding.”  ZDNet discusses law enforcement’s efforts to keep up in, “How Machine Learning Can Stop Terrorists from Money Laundering.”

It will not surprise our readers to learn authorities are turning to machine learning to cope with new money laundering methods. Reporter Charlie Osborne cites the CEO of cybersecurity firm ThetaRay, Mark Gazit, when she writes:

By taking advantage of Big Data, machine learning systems can process and analyze vast streams of information in a fraction of the time it would take human operators. When you have millions of financial transactions taking place every day, ML provides a means for automated pattern detection and potentially a higher chance of discovering suspicious activity and blocking it quickly. Gazit believes that through 2017 and beyond, we will begin to rely more on information and analytics technologies which utilize machine learning to monitor transactions and report crime in real time, which is increasingly important if criminals are going to earn less from fraud, and terrorism groups may also feel the pinch as ML cracks down on money laundering.

Of course, criminals will not stop improving their money-laundering game, and authorities will continue to develop tools to thwart them. Just one facet of the cybersecurity arms race.

Cynthia Murrell, January 30, 2017

Bing Gets Nostalgic

January 25, 2017

In my entire life, I have never seen so many people who were happy to welcome in a New Year.  2016 will be remembered for violence, political uproar, and other stuff that people wish to forget.  Despite the negative associations with 2016, other stuff did happen and looking back might offer a bit of nostalgia for the news and search trends of the past year.  On MSFT runs down a list of what happened on Bing in 2016,“Check Out The Top Search Trends On Bing This Past Year.”

Rather than focusing on a list of just top searches, Bing’s top 2016 searches are divided into categories: video games, Olympians, viral moments, tech trends, and feel good stories.  More top searches are located over at Bing page.  However, on the top viral trends it is nice to see that cat videos have gone down in popularity:

Ryder Cup heckler

Villanova’s piccolo girl

Powerball

Aston Martin winner

Who’s the mom?

Evgenia Medvedeva

Harambe the gorilla

#DaysoftheWeek

Cats of the Internet

Pokemon Go

On a personal level, I am surprised that Harambe the gorilla outranked Pokemon Go.  Some of these trends I do not even remember making the Internet circuit and I was on YouTube and Reddit for all of 2016.  I have been around enough years to recognize that things come and go and 2016 might have come off as a bad year for many, in reality, it was another year.  It also did not forecast doomsday.  That was back in 2000, folks.  Get with the times!

Whitney Grace, January 25, 2017

The Software Behind the Web Sites

January 17, 2017

Have you ever visited an awesome Web site or been curious how an organization manages their Web presence?  While we know the answer is some type of software, we usually are not given a specific name.  Venture Beat reports that it is possible to figure out the software in the article, “SimilarTech’s Profiler Tells You All Of The Technologies That Web Companies Are Using.”

SimilarTech is a tool designed to crawl the Internet to analyze what technologies, including software, Web site operators use.  SimiliarTech is also used to detect which online payment tools are the most popular.  It does not come as a surprise that PayPal is the most widely used, with PayPal Subscribe and Alipay in second and third places.

Tracking what technology and software companies utilize for the Web is a boon for salespeople, recruiters, and business development professionals who want a competitive edge as well as:

Overall, SimilarTech provides big data insights about technology adoption and usage analytics for the entire internet, providing access to data that simply wasn’t available before. The insights are used by marketing and sales professionals for website profiling, lead generation, competitive analysis, and business intelligence.

SimiliarTech can also locate contact information for personnel responsible for Web operations, in other words new potential clients.

This tool is kind of like the mailing houses of the past. Mailing houses have data about people, places, organizations, etc. and can generate contact information lists of specific clientele for companies.  SimiliarTech offers the contact information, but it does one better by finding the technologies people use for Web site operation.

Whitney Grace, January 17, 2016

McKinsey and Analytics: Make Sure You Are a One Percenter

January 15, 2017

McKinsey & Co., the blue chip consulting firm, is doing its part to motivate students to ace their SATs. You can get a glimpse of the future for those who are not over achievers and able to get hired at an oligopoly in “The Age of Analytics: Competing in a Data Driven World.” If your firm is a customer of McKinsey, you can wrangle a briefing and get even more juicy insights. But for the folks who live in Harrod’s Creek, we have to make do with the free write up.

The main point is that organizations who embrace analytics can just be more successful. More money, more influence, more, more, more. In today’s uncertain business climate, the starving cats are going to pay attention to this catnip.

The write up reveals:

Leading companies are using their capabilities not only to improve their core operations but also to launch entirely new business models. The network effects of digital platforms are creating a winner-take-most situation in some markets. The leading firms have remarkably deep analytical talent taking on various problems—and they are actively looking for ways to enter other industries. These companies can take advantage of their scale and data insights to add new business lines, and those expansions are increasingly blurring traditional sector boundaries.

Net net: hire McKinsey to help you take advantage of this opportunity. For those who are not working hard to be perceived as smart enough to work at a blue chip outfit like McKinsey, there may be universal basic income in your not so bright future.

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2017

More Poll Excitement: Information Overload

January 5, 2017

I read “Really? Most Americans Don’t Suffer Information Overload.” The main idea is that folks in the know, in the swim, and in the top one percent suffer from too much information. The rest of the ignorance-is-bliss crowd has a different perception.

The write up explains, reports, states:

A new report from the Pew Research Center says that most Americans do not suffer from information overload—even though many of us frequently say otherwise.

What’s up with that?

The write up points out:

Many people complain about the volume of information coming at us. But we want it. Adweek reported earlier this year that the average person consumes almost 11 hours of media per day. That’s everything from text messages to TV programs to reading a newspaper.

Well, the Pew outfit interviewed 1,520 people which is sample approved by those who look in the back of statistics 101 textbooks rely upon. I have no details about the demographics of the sample, geographic location, and reason these folks took time out from watching Netflix to answer the Pew questions, however.

The answer that lots of people don’t suffer from information overload seems wrong when viewed from the perspective of a millennial struggling to buy a house while working as a customer support rep until the automated system is installed.

But wait. The write up informs me:

the recent national election showed that “in a lot of ways people live in small information bubbles. They get information on social media that has been filtered for them. It is filtered by the network they belong to. In a lot of ways, there’s less information and much of it is less diverse than it was in an earlier era.” The public’s hunger for that information is reflected in a study conducted by Bank of America. The bank found that 71 percent of the people they surveyed sleep within arm’s reach of their smartphone. And 3 percent of those people hold their smartphone while they’re in dreamland.

Too much information for me.

Stephen E Arnold, January 5, 2017

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