Google: Back in the Games

August 17, 2018

Ten or 12 years ago, a person flipped through a presentation developed allegedly by a Google professional. The angle was that Google and Yahoo would team up for a video and online game business. As far as I know, the idea may have been a spoof. Given the history of Google and Yahoo, my thought was that “teaming up” might have been a non starter.

Flash forward to today.

Google’s limitless budget means it gets to invest in a lot of cool startups and ideas of its own. However, they have a real Babe Ruth batting average with this arm of its business—either they hit a homerun or strike out. This disturbing trend was covered in-depth in a Tech News World story, “Next Up, Game Consoles: Is There Anything Google Can’t Do Badly?”

According the story:

“Google’s latest effort is rumored to be a gaming system to compete with PlayStation and Xbox (but with streamed games). I expect it will end badly, largely because Google won’t want to expend the effort to make it successful and will lose interest within a brief period of time.”

If this ambitious jump to a new market goes as poorly as Google’s effort to break into the world of tablet computers. In case you need a reminder, it appears that the GOOG abandoned that effort. Will online games become a winner like Google Home?

Worth watching.

Patrick Roland, August 17, 2018

Partnership with Deloitte Boosts SAP-Google Cloud Combo

August 14, 2018

Google wants to be a player in the enterprise cloud. Price cuts alone may not do the job. Therefore, Google is embracing new types of partners.

Consultancy firm Deloitte has been busy. On the heels of merging their Pacific operations, we now learn, “Deloitte Deal Brings Google Cloud and SAP Alliance to Life,” courtesy of New Zealand’s ResellerNews. Now, as part of its cloud migration and management services, the company will migrate SAP apps to the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Writer James Henderson informs us:

“Deloitte will provide a ‘full suite’ of solutions for running SAP applications on GCP, including an invoice management solution, which will automate invoice processing within an SAP environment. In addition, other offerings include a visual inspection solution, capable of automating the visual inspection process and accelerate inventory restocking. … From a technology perspective, GCP is certified to run SAP workloads, which includes S/4HANA, BW/4HANA, Business Suite, Business Warehouse, alongside applications such as Hybris, Business One, Solution Manager and Business Objects BI Suite… The alliance comes 18 months after Google Cloud announced an applications partnership with SAP, in a move designed to position the tech giant as a serious cloud contender within the enterprise.”

Further offerings include an automated visual inspection process and accelerated inventory restocking. This partnership brings more than 125 million SAP subscribers into Google Cloud’s realm, including more than 5,200 start-up developers, we’re told. Deloitte was founded long ago in 1895 in London, and is now headquartered in New York City. They also are hiring at the moment for locations in several far-flung cities.

Cynthia Murrell, August 14, 2018

Code Search Capability Offers New Options

August 13, 2018

The days of sifting through code like a panhandler looking for a sparkly gold nugget are over. Innovative technologies and groundbreaking partnerships are making the infinite numbers of binary code just as searchable as any word combo in Google. One such pairing recently came across our desk in a blog post from Elastic, “Welcome to the Elastic Team.”

According to the report:

”Code search capability also aligns with our vision for solutions-based offerings: by using and combining components of the Elastic Stack in a very precise way, we can deliver focused and intuitive experiences that solve specific pain points, with little to no overhead for the user. This enables delightful user experiences right out-of-the-box, with the initial hurdles and optimizations already taken care of.”

These two will make for a powerful partnership thanks to code search, but they are far from the only ballgame in town. In fact, some familiar names are popping up in this realm, including Bing, who has been dying for an angle to beat out Google for years. Jumping into code search early might just be that niche, which would be a shocking turnabout for the red headed step child of search. Worth a watch.

Patrick Roland, August 13, 2018

Has Alexa Become Unstoppable?

August 8, 2018

But for 98 percent of Alexa users’ failure to buy stuff by talking to Alexa, the device looks like a successful one.

Some at Beyond Search believe that digital home assistants are basically spying on us. Perhaps conversations and requests are being cataloged, and in some cases used against some in court. Is it possible that Amazon’s intelligence services have access to the Alexified content.

One hopes Google and Amazon and the like aren’t aiming to be big brother, Perhaps a different objective is in play. The CNBC story, “Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home: Advertisers Weigh In.”

We learned:

“The most expensive ad space in the future will be Alexa…hey are really just integrated in the shopping platform…. This has also opened up the door for marketers to sell items through Alexa apps. VaynerMedia worked on converting popular mobile game “Heads Up!” for Alexa, and was the first to integrate a voice-activated one time payment functionality to buy add-ons.

This story is not alone in predicting this. The Wall Street Journal called your home assistant “the new battleground” for ad dollars. If that is the case, we predict the advertisers are right and Amazon will have the advantage. While it might be projecting, we wouldn’t be surprised if this is already the end of Google Home. Money talks and Amazon has a giant window into that world. But the intelligence angle continues to capture our attention.

Patrick Roland, August 8, 2018

The Internet: A Heraclitian Insight Millennia Late

August 3, 2018

What will the internet of 2026 look like? Chances are, we have no clue. With the rapid pace of change and innovation, especially in AI and machine learning, means that it will be interesting, to say the least. This was brought to our attention by looking at an old Search Engine Journal article, “10 Things from 2010 That May Shape Your 2011.”

Curiously, there is no mention of AI and social media was still in its infancy. According to the poll they ran:

“Interestingly, Hitwise suggests 13% growth in retailer’s traffic from social media year on year highlighting the importance of word-of-mouth and the optimization of search and social media assets with such purpose….“Increasing monetization of social media such as Twitter is also an area to keep an eye on, knowing the interest of clients in this area.”

This poll is so innocent, it’s almost adorable. The idea that Twitter and social media might have a financial impact on the world and on politics exists, adrift from the realities of weaponized information. It appears that AI and machine learning will occupy the same ironic position in nearly 10 years. Look at how any experts are saying it will shape governments and also today’s approach to ethics.

We think meme crafting is a hip way to explain how those who have information insight, money, and capabilities can make sure the river one steps into is filtered, controlled, and temperature controlled. New to meme crafting? Think of propaganda designed for keeping Heraclitus’ maxim fresh:

Big results require big ambitions. Patrick Roland,

Patrick Roland, August 3, 2018

About Wanting China to Change

August 2, 2018

I read “Google Developing News App for China.” Interesting tactical shift at the GOOG. I won’t bring up the remarkable suggestion some senior Googlers floated years ago. Nope. I won’t write: “Google wants China to change.” No. I will not mention that the Middle Kingdom has not been a social construct ready to rush into the Brave New World. China is, well, China.

The main point of the write up is that Google employs some people who have probably figured out that China is a big market. In terms of market share, Google is looking at the Great Wall from afar. Where there is money, there is now a desire to become a player in what sure looks like one of the world’s largest markets.

Bottom-line: Google will do things the way China wants them done. That killing courtyard in Xi’an made it clear that once in that clever reception area, one did it China’s way or the clueless traders were in a position of strategic and tactical disadvantage. That’s a nice way of saying “trapped.”

Indexing information for China requires a basic tweak: Exclude content not on the Chinese white list.

What does this mean for the old “information wants to be free” idea?

It means that filtered information is what a person will see if Beyond Search understands the assertions in the write up.

Interesting stuff.

Google has learned a basic lesson at a cost of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, in revenue: Companies are not nation states.

Beyond Search has learned that certain “ideals” are what one might describe as “flexible.” “Real” news and MBAs discussing ethics. As the Beyond Search goose knows, “Bend like the willow in a wind.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 2, 2018

The Fortune Magazine Channels the Onion. Is SNL in the Future of Fortune?

July 31, 2018

Perhaps ola is a good way to approach this Fortune Magazine story. Now the story is satire. Satire triggers in my mind thoughts of the Onion online service, now owned by Univision. I want to mention that Univision is trying to sell the Onion. Maybe the phrase I want is Hasta la vista?

I read “Man Terrified of Palantir, More Terrified to Explain What Palantir Is,” a write up labeled in small light blue type as “Humor. Satire from Fortune.” Yep, a million laughs.

The problem is that the write up is not particularly humorous. If the reader does not pay attention to Palantir Technologies and how it uses the Amazon Web Services platform, the article makes no sense. Therefore, the laughter quotient is small. In the calculus of humor, I would suggest that there is an infinitesimal chuckle in the story.

If one is familiar with Gotham, Metropolitan, the use cases for the software, the write up may be interpreted as an accurate “real” news story.

For me, I think Fortune has another agenda. My hunch is that Fortune wants to do a Buzzfeed dive bombing of the company. Perhaps the story ended up on a dull spike in the humming editorial hive of the magazine.

Here’s a passage I noted:

As Watts described his style of news consumption, it became clear how one man can be so fearful of a company without understanding its purpose.

With Fortune’s “real” story on ICE, I think this statement applies to much of the coverage of Palantir Technologies.

Yep, real news is satire, not fake news. Why not chase down a non fake, non humorless story about the company? Why not explain what the Gotham wheel menu provides a user? I like the wheel menu. Real news about a “wheel” subject.

Stephen E Arnold, July 31, 2018

IBM Turns to Examples to Teach AI Ethics

July 31, 2018

It seems that sometimes, as with humans, the best way to teach an AI is by example. That’s one key takeaway from VentureBeat’s article, “IBM Researchers Train Ai to Follow Code of Ethics.” The need to program a code of conduct into AI systems has become clear, but finding a method to do so has proven problematic. Efforts to devise rules and teach them to systems are way too slow, and necessarily leave out many twists and turns of morality that (most) humans understand instinctively. IBM’s solution is to make the machine draw conclusions for itself by studying examples. Writer Ben Dickson specifies:

“The AI recommendation technique uses two different training stages. The first stage happens offline, which means it takes place before the system starts interacting with the end user. During this stage, an arbiter gives the system examples that define the constraints the recommendation engine should abide by. The AI then examines those examples and the data associated with them to create its own ethical rules. As with all machine learning systems, the more examples and the more data you give it, the better it becomes at creating the rules. … The second stage of the training takes place online in direct interaction with the end user. Like a traditional recommendation system, the AI tries to maximize its reward by optimizing its results for the preferences of the user and showing content the user will be more inclined to interact with. Since satisfying the ethical constraints and the user’s preferences can sometimes be conflicting goals, the arbiter can then set a threshold that defines how much priority each of them gets. In the [movie recommendation] demo IBM provided, a slider lets parents choose the balance between the ethical principles and the child’s preferences.”

Were told the team is also working to use more complex systems than the yes/no model, ones based on ranked priorities instead, for example. Dickson notes the technique can be applied to many other purposes, like calculating optimal drug dosages for certain patients in specific environments. It could also, he posits, be applied to problems like filter bubbles and smartphone addiction.

Beyond Search wonders if IBM ethical methods apply to patent enforcement, staff management of those over 55 year old, and unregulated blockchain services. Annoying questions? I hope so.

Cynthia Murrell, July 31, 2018

Google Reveals a Machine Learning Secret or Two

July 27, 2018

I read “Google AI Chief Jeff Dean’s ML System Architecture Blueprint.” Dr. Dean is a Google wizard from the good old days at the online ad search outfit. The write up is important because it reminds me that making software smart is a bit of a challenge. Amazon is trying to explain why its facial recognition pegged some elected officials as potential bad actors. IBM Watson is trying to reverse course and get its cancer treatment recommendations to save lives, not make them more interesting. Dozens upon dozens of companies are stating that each has artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart software, and other types of knowledge magic revved and ready to deploy.

The key part of the write up in my opinion boils down to this list of six “concerns”:

  • Training
  • Batch Size
  • Sparsity and Embeddings
  • Quantization and Distillation
  • Networks with Soft Memory
  • Learning to Learn (L2L)

The list identifies some hurdles. But underpinning these concerns is one significant “separate the men from the boys” issue; to wit:


What’s this suggest? Three things from my vantage point in rural Kentucky:

First, Google is spending big money on smart software, and others should get with the program and use its technology. The object of course is to generate lock in and produce revenue for the Google.

Second, make Google’s method “the method.” Innovation using Google’s approach is better, faster, and cheaper.

Third, Google is the leader in machine learning and smart software. Keep in mind, however, that these technologies may not be available to law enforcement, to governments which wish to use the approach for warfighting, or certain competitors.

Worth reading this Google paper. One downside: The diagrams are somewhat difficult to figure out. But that may not matter. Google has you covered.

Stephen E Arnold, July 27, 2018

China Senses Silicon Valley Weakness: The Art of Digital War in Action

July 23, 2018

In the early 2000s, China was referred to as the “sleeping dragon,” because it was believed the Middle Kingdom would overtake the US as the world’s top economic power. It did not happen. China still remains a major economic powerhouse, but instead of total economic dominance China is challenging Silicon Valley. The Atlantic looks at how in the article, “How China’s Tech Revolution Threatens Silicon Valley.”

Beijing is a hotbed for young, educated professionals working in startups. Once upon a time college graduates applied for jobs at state-owned businesses and banks, because of job security. It is not like that anymore. People who had those jobs were unengaged with them. The new economic boom fueled by public and private funding allows the young to walk a different path free of the monotonous labor of their fore parents.

There are many Chinese startup success stories: Alibaba, search engine Baidu, and phone manufacturer Xiaomi. Beijing is a startup epicenter and it is very much like walking in New York City, London, Los Angeles, Paris, or another modern city except it is Asian. Since the end of the Cold War, China’s economic and cultural identity has been a group mentality followed by a US copycat status.

China, however, wants to be the world’s technology leader in robots, AI, clean energy cars, and more. The government that used to stymie creativity is now actively calling for it:

“Chinese leaders are looking to young entrepreneurs to spearhead the transformation. It helps that much the world’s hardware, such as smartphones and computers, is already made domestically, with many key parts produced in the southern factory metropolis of Shenzhen. Also supporting China’s strength is an influx of venture capital into Chinese start-ups, from both home and abroad, and from private investments by rich Chinese individuals who lack safer options given China’s volatile stock market and restrictions on investments in housing. Last year, Chinese-led funding accounted for nearly a quarter of worldwide venture capital, a 15-fold increase from 2013, with most of the investment going to Chinese companies, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis. During that period, U.S.-led funding doubled.”

The Chinese government is giving money to people with startup ideas. But what does the Chinese government demand in return? China does not like anything that gives them a bad name and they also are controlling. What is the Chinese government going to demand when the interest on their loans comes due?

What will US companies do if certain products and services are no longer affordable, economically viable, or available?

Whitney Grace, July 23, 2018

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