Mondeca: Tweaking Its Market Position

February 22, 2017

One of the Beyond Search goslings noticed a repositioning of the taxonomy capabilities of Mondeca. Instead of pitching indexing, the company has embraced ElasticSearch (based on Lucene) and Solr. The idea is that if an organization is using either of these systems for search and retrieval, Mondeca can provide “augmented” indexing. The idea is that keywords are not enough. Mondeca can index the content using concepts.

Of course, the approach is semantic, permits exploration, and enables content discovery. Mondeca’s Web site describes search as “find” and explains:

Initial results are refined, annotated and easy to explore. Sorted by relevancy, important terms are highlighted: easy to decide which one are relevant. Sophisticated facet based filters. Refining results set: more like this, this one, statistical and semantic methods, more like these: graph based activation ranking. Suggestions to help refine results set: new queries based on inferred or combined tags. Related searches and queries.

This is a similar marketing move to the one that Intrafind, a German search vendor, implemented several years ago. Mondeca continues to offer its taxonomy management system. Human subject matter experts do have a role in the world of indexing. Like other taxonomy systems and services vendors, the hook is that content indexed with concepts is smart. I love it when indexing makes content intelligent.

The buzzword is used by outfits ranging from MarkLogic’s merry band of XML and XQuery professionals to the library-centric outfits like Smartlogic. Isn’t smart logic better than logic?

Stephen E Arnold, February 22, 2017

Watson to the Future: The Mainframe

February 19, 2017

Hey, you love mainframes. You may have some. IBMs own. Hitachi-style plug compatibles. Whatever.

Want to run some zip zip stuff on them? Now you can load Watson and get cognitive computing for your airline reservations, your government accounting, or your bank’s back office process which no one knows how to port to Goggle-style servers.

The light shined in my mind’s dark rooms when I read “IBM Brings Machine Learning To The Private Cloud.” Nestled into the article is this statement:

BM has extracted the core machine learning technology from IBM Watson and will initially make it available where much of the world’s enterprise data resides: the z System mainframe, the operational core of global organizations where billions of daily transactions are processed by banks, retailers, insurers, transportation firms and governments.

The write up makes some bold assertions; for example, “any” language, popular machine learning framework, transaction data type, and “without the cost, latency, or risk of moving data off premise.”

The write up provides a snapshot of where IBM thinks mainframes and Watson will generate revenues; specifically:

  • Retail
  • Financial services
  • Healthcare.

My thought is that each of these markets may want to reduce their dependence on mainframes and the challenges of cost control, staffing, and rapid application development “chains.”

If Watson were selling like hot cakes, why chase mainframes? Answer: More revenue. Customer demand, in my opinion, might be the wrong answer.

Stephen E Arnold, February 19, 2017

Whither ISYS Search Software?

February 13, 2017

I must admit I don’t think too much about ISYS Search Software. Founded in the 1980s, Lexmark acquired the Australian company in 2012. The former IBM printer unit described ISYS as a “global leader” in search. ISYS performed well, but global leader? Well, that’s verbal fireworks in my opinion. ISYS disappeared and emerged (sort of) as the search system in Lexmark’s health care play. This outfit was called Perceptive Software and performed a wide range of magic for a market sector which would presumably make as much money as printer ink once did. Yep, how’s that for an MBA play? Not the full ball game. But Lexmark did not have enough text processing oomph. The company bought Brainware in 2012, an outfit which held patents for trigram, offered pattern matching search technology, and had a work flow system to do some back office tricks. Busy year 2012 for the horsey printer set.

The answer is that Lexmark is now part of Apex and PAG Asian Capital. Stated another way, Lexmark blew money and, like many other companies, learned that search was a tough business to use as a springboard to untold wealth. Lexmark snagged Kofax in 2015 in an attempt to generate money from the world’s need to federate content.

I thought of Lexmark, ISYS, and the gyrations of Lexmark when I read “Lexmark Cuts 320 Software Jobs; Local Toll Unclear.” What units of Lexmark are affected? My hunch is that the trio of Brainware, ISYS, and Kofax may bear the brunt of the weight of the folks looking for new jobs. (Lexmark bought the ETL outfit Kofax, which does some work for interesting US government agencies, licenses tools to one of my favorite outfits with visions of JRR Tolkien, and does not return telephone calls.) My experience with Chinese executives is that they are pragmatic. The write up told me:

“This action was taken to reduce our costs to be more in line with our revenues and those of comparable enterprise software companies,” Sylvia Chansler, a spokeswoman for Lexmark subsidiary Kofax Inc., said in a statement.

The great pivot of Lexmark from printers to management software seems to have failed. Surprised? I am not. I live in rural Kentucky and know that high technology dreams can be difficult to realize in an area where fast horses and expensive bourbon capture one’s imagination.

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2017

Google: Getting Frisky or a Victim. You Decide

February 12, 2017

I read “Google Cozies to Trump but Calls for His Impeachment.” This is a pretty exciting chunk of “real” journalism. The Washington Times is an interesting publication. Gee, I wonder who owns it. I noted this statement in the “real” news write up:

“Some of us may need to adopt Pence 2017 bumper stickers,” Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin joked at a company sponsored anti-Trump protest — the biggest demonstration from a Silicon Valley corporation this week — in response to Mr. Trump’s controversial immigration executive order.

That’s interesting. Online advertising meets politics without selling AdWords. I recall that Mr. Brin made some folks grin more than a decade ago when he visited poobahs. Mr. Brin, as I recall, wore a T shirt. Interesting. Made quite a stir for those of us who were in proximity to the Googler’s day on the Hill.

I also highlighted this passage:

Mr. Schmidt told Google employees that the Trump administration is “going to do these evil things as they’ve done in the immigration area and perhaps some others.” Google’s corporate mantra is “don’t be evil.” And yet, like any firm, Google needs to make money, and it’s benefited from peddling soft influence in the nation’s capital. Now that a new sheriff is in town, Google needs to at least pretend to play nice — or all be lost.

Hmm. I thought that “don’t be evil” thing was a goner. Guess not.

I circled this statement in the “real” news story as well:

Before Mr. Obama took office, Google spent almost no money trying to peddle political influence, now it’s a behemoth. It spent more than $15 million in lobbying in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, compared with $2.8 million in 2008. During Mr. Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, Google employees were the second-largest source of donations by any single U.S. company, with Microsoft being number one.

Nifty write up. And it is “real” journalism. If Google is sending mixed messages to humans, how does one search for this: “Google actual intent Trump”.  I got neither relevant nor timely results on this query. I must admit I did not run this query: “Google Trump impeach”. Ah, call me superficial.

Stephen E Arnold, February 12, 2017

Captain Obvious Report: Smart Software Will Kill Jobs

February 12, 2017

I love the chatter about artificial intelligence. Lists Like “Experts Have Come Up with 23 Guidelines to Avoid an AI Apocalypse” are amusing. The outfits applying smart software are focused on revenues, deals, market share, big contracts, and money. I am not sure worrying about how a Boston Dynamics-type robot will operate when deployed in a war zone in swarm autonomous mode is going to do much for the apocalypse worriers.

There  are the obvious statements about smart software. You know. Search systems that deliver information to you before you knew you needed that information. A digital mom or a persistent and ever present significant other. Enter our Captain Obvious report. Read on.

I read the “Experts Have Come Up with…” article can absorbed this injunction:

the Asilomar AI Principles (after the beach in California, where they were thought up), the guidelines cover research issues, ethics and values, and longer-term issues – everything from how scientists should work with governments to how lethal weapons should be handled. On that point: “An arms race in lethal autonomous weapons should be avoided,” says principle 18.

Interesting. You can look at the complete list, sort of like a year end top 10 films output, at this link.

Enter Captain Obvious. Navigate to “Google’s Diane Greene: Machine Learning Will Cost Jobs, So Skills Training Is Essential.” I love it when Googlers make it so easy for folks with dull normal IQs to get good advice for working in the post smart software world. But our intrepid Captain Obvious intellect spotted this gem:

Greene said, “machines are better than humans” at some tasks. Recently they’ve started to do better at some kinds of image and speech recognition, and they’re performing tasks such as finding signs of disease, such as retinopathy, from images more accurately than humans.

Yikes, aren’t these jobs performed by people with college educations and maybe graduate degrees?

Captain Obvious enters:

people, especially those that are computer-literate, shouldn’t have a problem getting new jobs. “This has happened before in the world,” she said, such as during the Industrial Revolution. “There’s new jobs they can easily do. It’s all about training.” But others need to be helped through the transition.

So no work. Retraining. What about some folks who are not too bright? asks Captain Obvious. These people can work on “new” jobs at Google maybe?

Stephen E Arnold, February 11, 2017

Big Guns Want to Make Artificial Intelligence Ethical

January 31, 2017

I read “Apple Joins Research Group for Ethical AI with Fellow Tech Giants.” The write up informed me that:

As artificial intelligence becomes an increasingly powerful force in industry and society, some of the world’s biggest companies are worrying about how the technology can be used ethically, and how the public will perceive its spread. To combat these problems (and others), five tech companies — Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and IBM — set up a research group called the Partnership on AI.

Apple is on the bus.

I don’t want to be skeptical, but there are some outfits actively working on smart software for government use cases. There is, in effect, a shadow business in artificial intelligence and smart software for warfighting, intelligence, and law enforcement.


A prototype autonomous weapon hunts for the enemy. For more images of the device, navigate to this link.

Sure, it’s great that the consumer facing outfits are going to meet and talk about how to keep children and partially informed users of mobile phones from negative uses of smart software. But I had two thoughts flit through my addled goose brain.

What are the outfits listed in the Carahsoft round up of Carahsoft IT solutions for government doing to make sure smart software is ethical. If you are not familiar with Carahsoft’s lists, you can check them out at this link.

Also, there are the US government programs to advance the use of smart software. Some of these ideas are interesting to me, but I am not sure how they will fly in a grade school. Examples include self directing swarms of weaponized mini drones released from an aircraft to autonomous imagery analysis systems which can deploy countermeasures automatically when folks face a threat.

Finally, there are the wizards working at various government research centers. These range from the little known units of consulting companies to university related research organizations.

In short, the notion of making artificial intelligence ethical is an interesting one for commercial enterprises. I wonder if the folks will chit chat about other topics when the members sit down for Philz coffee. There’s nothing like a helpful conversation among publicly traded companies who have a mandate to maximize their revenues.

I don’t want to be a fuddy duddy, but what does “ethics” mean?

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2017

Facebook and Google: The M Word Is Not Enough. The C Word Arises.

January 19, 2017

I believe everything I read on the Internet. I am so superficial. Perhaps I am the most superficial person living in rural Kentucky. The write up “The Google-Facebook Online Ad Cartel is the Biggest Competition Problem” seems to be the work of a person who specializes in future Internet competition. He has worked for presidents and written op eds for “real” journalistic outfits. I am convinced… almost.

The main point of the write up is that Facebook and Google operate as a cartel. I highlighted this statement:

Google commands ~90% market share of mobile search and search advertising. It protects those monopolies with an anti-competitive moat around Alphabet-Google by cross-subsidizing the global offering over 200 expensive-to-create, products and services for free, i.e. dramatically below Google’s total costs. Those many expensive subsidized products and services make Google’s moat competitively impregnable, because no competitor could afford to recreate them without a highly profitable online ad business, and the Goobook ad cartel forecloses that very competitive possibility.

The statement echoes Chaos Monkeys, the tell all about the high flying world of Silicon Valley.

I also noted:

In early 2013, Facebook launched its alternative to Google search, called “Facebook Graph Search” in partnership with Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Then in 2014, Google and Facebook obviously, abruptly, and relatively quietly, chose to no longer directly compete with one another. In the first half of 2014, Google reversed course in social, defunding Google+, ending its forced integration, and announcing the shutdown of Orkut, Google’s 300 million user social network. In the second half of 2014, Facebook quietly dropped its Facebook Graph Search alternative to Google search and its search partnership with Microsoft’s Bing.

One consequence is:

Goobook’s customers – advertisers — pay higher ad prices and have less cohesive and effective ad campaigns under the Goobook ad cartel than they would have if Google and Facebook continued to compete. No material competition to keep them honest, also means Google and Facebook can avoid third party accountability for the core advertising activity metrics that they use to charge for their ad services.

The net net is that US laws and policies:

favors free-content models over paid content models, ultimately produces monopolies and monopolies colluding in cartel behaviors that are hostile to property rights. Monopsonies [sic] de facto forcing property owners to offer their property for sale at a wholesale price at zero, is anti-competitive and predatory. Free is not a price, it’s a subsidy or a loss.

No monopoly word. The cartel word is the moniker for these two esteemed outfits grouped under the neologism “Goobook.” WWTD? Oh, that means “What will Trump do?” Perhaps the Trump White House will retain the author as a policy adviser for cartels?

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2017

IBM Explains Buggy Whip to Control Corvettes

January 19, 2017

I love IBM. I enjoy the IBM Watson marketing. I get a kick out of the firm’s saga of declining quarterly revenue. Will IBM make it 19 quarters in a row? I am breathless.

I read “IBM’s Rometty Lays Out AI Considerations, Ethical Principals.” The main idea, as I understand it, is:

artificial intelligence should be used to advance and augment humans not replace them. Transparency of AI development is also necessary.

Since smart software is dependent upon numerical recipes, I am not sure that the many outfits involved in fiddling with procedures, systems, and methods are going to make clear what their wizards are doing. Furthermore, IBM, in my opinion, is a bit of a buggy whip outfit. The idea that a buggy whip can control a bright 18 year old monitoring a drone swarm relying on artificial intelligence to complete a mission. Maybe IBM will equip Watson with telepathy?

The write up explains:

Commonly referred to as artificial intelligence, this new generation of technology and the cognitive systems it helps power will soon touch every facet of work and life – with the potential to radically transform them for the better…As with every prior world-changing technology, this technology carries major implications. Many of the questions it raises are unanswerable today and will require time, research and open discussion to answer.

Okay. What’s DeepMind up to? What about those folks at Facebook, Baidu, Microsoft, MIT, and most of the upscale French universities doing? Are the insights of researchers in Beijing finding their way into the media channel?

Well, IBM is going to take action if the information in the “real” journalistic write up is on the money. Here’s what Big Blue is going to do in its continuing effort to become a plus for stakeholders:

  1. IBM’s systems will augment human intelligence. Sounds good but the direction of some smart software is to make it easy for humans to get a pizza. The digital divide delivers convenience to lots of folks and big paydays to those in the top tier who find a way to sell stuff. Alexa, I need paper towels.
  2. Transparency. Right, that’s a great idea, but how it plays out in the real world is going to be a bit hit and miss. Actually, more miss than hit. The big money folks want to move to “winner take all” plays. Amazon Alexa has partners. Amazon keeps some money as it continues it march to global digital Wal-Mart-ism.
  3. Skills. Yep, the smart software movers and shakers buy promising outfits. Even the allegedly independent folks in Montréal are finding Microsoft a pretty nifty place to work.

Perhaps the folks doing smart software will meet and agree on some rules. Better yet, the US government can legislate rules and then rely on the United Nations or NGOs to promulgate them. Wait. There is a better way. Why not use a Vulcan mind meld?

I understand the IBM has to take the high road, but when a drone swarm makes its own decisions, whipping the rule books may not have much effect. Love those MBA chestnuts like buggy whips.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2017

Palantir Technologies: A First for a Content Processing Outfit

January 18, 2017

Palantir Technologies visibility has an upside and a downside. The upside is that the company’s brand, its Gotham system, and its Metropolis are gaining traction among executives in a range of disciplines, not just the heady world of Wall Street or the less well travelled pathways of law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

I read “Tech Workers Are Protesting Palantir’s Involvement with Immigration Data.” If accurate, the write up is one of the first reports of people getting antsy about systems and methods which are going on 30 years old. FYI I did a tiny bit of work for i2 Group, the outfit which developed Analyst’s Notebook in the 1990s. That system used techniques known to researchers in the UK, France, and elsewhere for decades. The point is that the “protest” is something that companies involved in data analysis have not experienced. I am not bringing a dog to this fight. I think it is intersting that awareness of what one can accomplish using graph analysis, centuries old math, and basic information access methods is now triggering what may be a potentially contentious public protest. (Get those permits, folks.)

The write up points out:

As Trump prepares to take office, a Silicon Valley group demands Palantir account for systems that could be used for mass deportation.

From elected officials who disavow the president elect to skilled professionals who are worried about what the president elect “may” do, search and content processing has only rarely faced a group of concerned people. Even Autonomy, an early player with BAE Systems in data analysis for government tasks, is essentially invisible despite a high profile lawsuit with Hewlett Packard. There was a protest more than a decade ago in front of Autonomy’s Cambridge offices, but I can’t recall why a group of about a dozen people showed up and then dispersed. Outfits like FinFisher or Vupen make news in specialist publications. The idea of a mass protest in front of the Gamma Group offices in the UK is a rare event.

The Palantir to-be protest reported in the article pivots on what might happen in the future. Future reporting is an interesting genre. The write up states:

Due in part to a Verge report from last month, a group of tech workers in Silicon Valley has announced that it will hold a demonstration outside the headquarters of Palantir Technologies in Palo Alto next Wednesday to protest the company’s involvement in intelligence systems used by federal immigration authorities.

The news service takes some credit as a catalyst and writes about what will happen on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, in a write up published online on January 13, 2017. (Where are these folks at Kentucky Derby time when I have to pick a horse for the big race?)

I learned (I think this is the correct tense for writing about reporting the future):

We want to make it clear that the overall tech community is watching what Palantir does,” says Jason Prado, a software engineer at Facebook and member of the Tech Workers Coalition, the group organizing the Palantir demonstration. “And we want to hold the tech community overall accountable for the values that we as a community have.”

The write up does some more tense dancing with this statement in the write up:

This week, both Thiel and Palantir’s CEO, Alex Karp, separately pledged that Palantir will not be used to build a Muslim registry — a demand listed by Prado’s group. “We think that’s fantastic,” says Prado, “but we’re also interested in their possible involvement in what we see as mass deportation and we plan to continue pushing on that.”

More interesting for me was or is this statement in the write up:

Last month, I reported for The Verge that Palantir had provided largely-secret assistance to the US Customs and Border Protection agency in administering a complex intelligence platform known as the Analytical Framework for Intelligence, or AFI, which collects and analyzes troves of information on immigrants and other travelers entering, exiting, and moving within the United States.

The “I” refers to Spencer Woodman, who is both a trigger and a documenter of the present and the future.

The president elect seems to know about Palantir’s platform or “Analytical Framework for Intelligence.” I interpret Palantir’s approach as a series of components which go beyond what the 1990s-anchored i2 system does.

The write up by Mr. Woodman states:

Last month, I also reported that Palantir had signed a $34,650,000 in contracts with ICE to help build and maintain a large database and analytics platform called FALCON, which contains employment information, criminal records, immigration history, family connections, as well as home and work addresses. According to Department of Homeland Security oversight documents, FALCON is meant for use by ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations, which pursues serious cross-border crimes such as human trafficking, drug interdiction, and child pornography and is a separate entity from ERO. Tasked with enforcing unverified employment, HSI has conducted some of ICE’s most controversial recentimmigration raids on businesses employing undocumented Immigrants — the sort of operations that many immigrant advocates fear will expand under Trump.

From my point of view, I made a mental note of several points:

  1. The article or wrtie up as I term these online news/opinion/commentary essays makes it clear that what will happen in the future is due in part to the information presented in the author’s articles present and past. That’s very interesting.
  2. The technology revealed as a source of concern is, at least to me, very old news. There are newer and more more effective systems than those offered by Palantir. (No, I will not identify these vendors nor will I respond to email or telephone inquiries on these matters unless the call comes from a present or former client or via a referral from a trusted source. Do your own homework, gentle reader.) Palantir acquiores companies because it must or has to juice up is decade old system.
  3. The blurred role of the author and the write up as a “report” and a “prediction” makes it difficult for me to know why the article is not labeled as content marketing. I made a mental sticky note, however.

I think the assembly/protest is worth monitoring. I look forward to more “real” journalism on this matter. Frankly mixing up what did happen, what is happening, and what will happen in the future is somewhat confusing to me. I prefer a nice tidy timeline and outputs from a predictive analytics system like Record Future’s to help me make decisions about an event. I am also interested in making bubble gum cards for the individuals of interest, generating a graph of relationships, and pumping open source content through a series of text analysis procedures.

That, hoowever, is a great deal of work. I can understand why some “real” journalists prefer a phone call or two, some self referntial links, and Google Web searches when writing about what will happen on Janaury 18 five or more days before the 18th.

Stephen E Arnold, January 18, 2017

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

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