Silicon Valley CEOs Called Psychopaths

September 28, 2020

Why Silicon Valley CEOs Are Such Raging Psychopaths?” calls Silicon Valley CEOs psychopaths. That’s not new, but the idea that these skilled managers are “raging” is a novel twist. The article states:

According to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist — the universally accepted diagnostic tool used to assess this disorder — a psychopathic personality includes traits such as a grandiose sense of self-worth, a lack of remorse or guilt, poor behavioral controls, pathological lying and a lack of empathy. These attributes aren’t just present “but celebrated in Silicon Valley,” says Gavet, who once held the position of executive vice-president of global operations for Priceline Group, among other roles.

The Gavet is, as if you did not know, is the author of a new book called “Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem and How to Fix It.” Maëlle Gavet worked at Priceline and tallied 15-years in Unicornville. The article states:

Research by the FBI found that companies managed by psychopaths tend to have decreased productivity and low employee morale. In fact, Silicon Valley’s psychopathic traits “trickle down through entire organizations,” says Gavet. “In effect creating psychopathic companies.” This is enabled by an “infantilized culture” at many start-up companies, where employees become accustomed to working in “hyper-privileged bubbles where their every whim is catered to and every need anticipated,” she writes.

Amazon takes a punch as well:

She sees evidence of it happening already. Tim Bray, a celebrated engineer at Amazon and their onetime vice president of Web Services, quit his job in May because of the “toxicity running through the company culture,” as he wrote in a blog post. “I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison,” he wrote.

DarkCyber notes that the publicist who nudged the New York Post to write an article and book marketing use case deserves a Google mouse pad. DarkCyber wonders if Rupert Murdoch’s other New York are property will provide similar dead tree coverage of the book?

Will Mr. Murdoch purchase a copy, or will the wiley John Wiley provide the esteemed publisher with a complimentary copy? This has been a tough year for trees. First Bolton, then Rage, and now the psychopath thing. Trees, be aware: There is Kindle to save you someday, maybe?

Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2020

Microsoft and Search: Here We Go Again

September 23, 2020

Microsoft cannot create reliable software. Example: The Surface Duo, née Andromeda. Example: Windows 10 updates. Example: Windows Mobile. Example: Bob (remember Bob?) The company has good ideas, but it cannot move beyond imitating Amazon for the cloud, piggybacking on Google for a Windows 10X vehicle, and buying Fast Search & Transfer for the jargon-charged enterprise search system the company acquired in 2008.

Microsoft Gets Exclusive License for OpenAI’s GPT-3 Language Model” makes clear that the smart software efforts of Microsoft Research, acquisitions like Powerset and XOXCO, plus the numerous application specific search and NLP functions are not doing the job. The fix is to license the next big thing. Perhaps the challenge is an organization and work process within Microsoft? Maybe technology is not the problem? Maybe execution is?

The write up in the Silicon Valley real news article states:

Microsoft today announced that it will exclusively license GPT-3, one of the most powerful language understanding models in the world, from AI startup OpenAI. In a blog post, Microsoft EVP Kevin Scott said that the new deal will allow Microsoft to leverage OpenAI’s technical innovations to develop and deliver AI solutions for customers, as well as create new solutions that harness the power of natural language generation.

Here we go again. Will the result be a blend Bing, Windows ME, Vista, and MSN?

Stephen E Arnold, September 23, 2020

Amazon ARM: We Are Just Being Efficient. Absolutely.

September 17, 2020

The Register published “AWS Is Bursting with Pride for Its Arm CPU Cores – So Much It’s Put Them behind a Burstable Instance Type.” The main point is that certain AWS uses cases will be less expensive. Good. However, the most interesting facet of the write up is this comment from an individual who uses the handle “Anonymous Coward”; to wit:

ARM servers in the datacenter are not going to be a Thing until there is a sufficiently common systems architecture that important software can be portable between different vendors’ implementations without a massive conversion and optimization effort. Compare for example AWS ARM instances and the Fujitsu ARM compute nodes. The market today is a lot like the desktop computer world before the IBM PC (which, incidentally, is the direct ancestor of the Lintel server of today). Contrast the rapid adoption of GPUs for compute, which is facilitated enormously by Nvidia driving a standardized API across a broad range of cards. The worst case scenario for ARM servers is that the market remains an archipelago of incompatible implementations. The second worst is that AWS ARM instances become the de facto standard by sheer weight of market presence, and everybody else is left trying to “do what AWS does” by inspection, much like S3.

DarkCyber believes that Anonymous Coward has nailed the AWS tactic. Competitors have to be more like Amazon AWS. The long term objective, in DarkCyber’s opinion, is to implement an updated version of IBM’s “lock in tactics.” Pretty savvy for an online vendor of digital books.

Stephen E Arnold, September 17, 2020

Remember Andrew Carnegie and Free Public Libraries?

September 17, 2020

DarkCyber spotted “Publishers Are Taking the Internet to Court.” The Nation’s write up states:

On June 1, Whitehead’s publisher, Penguin Random House, together with fellow megapublishers Hachette, HarperCollins, and Wiley, filed a lawsuit against the Internet Archive alleging “mass copyright infringement.” The Internet Archive closed the National Emergency Library on June 16, citing the lawsuit and calling for the publishers to stand down. But the plaintiffs are continuing to press their claims, and are now seeking to close the whole Open Library permanently.

The action is a response to the Internet Archive’s effort to make content available during the pandemic. The Internet Archive, like Google, is not comprehensive. Nevertheless, the idea was a good one even if it created a pathway to obtain some interesting data and possibly content.

On the other hand, the response by publishers is understandable. The notion of digital information has destroyed the gatekeeping role many publishers donned when they decided to convert a manuscript into a marketable product.

What’s up?

DarkCyber believes that the goal of everyone with skin in this information game wants:

  • Lots of content under their control (directly or indirectly)
  • Conversion of the “marketable product” into a subscription service
  • Termination with extreme prejudice any mechanism to make information available without charge.

Does this mean the free public library has a red dot on its forehead? Maybe. Perhaps someone will demand that statues of Andrew Carnegie be destroyed.

Knowledge is power for some except for those without access to lending libraries, broadband access, mobile and desktop computing devices, and time to read and think. Gatekeepers unite.

Stephen E Arnold, September 17, 2020

Amazon Cares and Helps Small Business

September 16, 2020

DarkCyber noted “Amazon to Invest $18 Billion This Year to Help SMBs.”

“SMB” means small and mid sized businesses. These are the companies that are going out of business because some of the digital monopolists do not care.

The write up states with enthusiasm:

In the next 12 months, the ecommerce behemoth will provide more than 500,000 SMBs in the US currently selling on Amazon, with online selling guidance, education, and support and the company plans to onboard an additional 100,000 US businesses as new sellers in its store.

But that is not all:

Amazon has launched more than 135 new tools and services this year to help sellers manage and grow their businesses, including new ways to connect brands with customers. The company said it will spend an additional $100 million this year to promote small businesses during Prime Day and through the holiday season. Last year during Prime Day, third-party sellers – mostly SMBs – exceeded $2 billion in global sales.

Definitely significant because if it works, Amazon wins. That’s the way it is supposed to be when the Bezos bulldozer drives along the Information Superhighway. That road may feature billboards which say, “We are helping.” Impressive.

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2020

Social Science: Like Astrology and Phrenology Perhaps?

September 15, 2020

I do not understand sociology. In 1962, I ended up in a class taught by an esteemed eccentric named Bruce Cameron, Ph.D. I had heard about his interest in short wave and drove past his home to observe the bed springs hanging on the front of his house. The idea, as I recall, was to improve radio reception. Those in the engineering department at the lousy university I attended shared the brilliant professor’s fascination with commercial bed technology at lunch. Even I as a clueless freshman (or is it now freshperson?) knew about the concept of buying an antenna from our local electronics shop.

In the remarkable Dr. Cameron’s Sociology 101 class, he posed the question, “Why do Eskimos wear mittens?” Today, the question would have to reference indigenous circumpolar  people or another appropriate term. But in 1962, Eskimos was the go-to word.

I pointed out that I had seen in the Smithsonian Museum an exhibit of Eskimo hand wear and that there were examples of mittens with a finger component (trigger mits or nord gauntlets), thus combining the warmth of a mitten with the needed dexterity to remove a harpoon from a baby seal.

He ignored my comment. The question turned up on our first examination, and I recycled my alleged learning from the Smithsonian information card for the exhibit.

I received zero credit for my answer. Bummer. I think that was the point at which I dismissed “sociology” and placed it and the good professor in the same pigeon hole I used for astrology and phrenology.

After reading “What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers,” I reaffirmed my skepticism of sociology and its allied fields:

But actually diving into the sea of trash that is social science gives you a more tangible perspective, a more visceral revulsion, and perhaps even a sense of Lovecraftian awe at the sheer magnitude of it all: a vast landfill—a great agglomeration of garbage extending as far as the eye can see, effluvious waves crashing and throwing up a foul foam of p=0.049 papers.

The write up contains some interesting data. In reference to a citation graph, the paper points out why references to crappy research persist:

As in all affairs of man, it once again comes down to Hanlon’s Razor. Either:

  1. Malice: they know which results are likely false but cite them anyway.
  2. or, Stupidity: they can’t tell which papers will replicate even though it’s quite easy.

There is another reason: Clubs of so-called experts informally coordinate or simply do the “I will scratch your back if you scratch mine.”

What quasi-sociological field is doing its best to less corrupt? Surprisingly, it is economics. Education seems to have some semblance of ethical behavior, at least based on this sample of papers. But maybe the sample is skewed.

The paper concludes with a list of suggestions. Useful, but I think the present pattern of lousy work is going to persist and increase.

Hang those bed springs on the side of the house. Works for “good enough” solutions.

Stephen E Arnold, September 15, 2020

Bowling Alone Furniture Fashion Trends

September 15, 2020

Two items plopped into the DarkCyber news watch system. The first is “This $25,000 Meditation Pod That Looks Like an Egg Is Designed [to] Be Installed in Offices and Airports. Here’s How It Works”. DarkCyber added the missing part of the infinitive, and we think we understand an isolation chamber. The write up, however, explains:

OpenSeed says it has a solution, in the form of 1,000-lb meditation pods that look like something that fell off a UFO. According to the company, they believe “that the human race will access higher states of awareness, not through external technological developments, but by taking the journey within.” That’s where Meditation Pods come in.

How much for one of these pods?

Just $25,000.

Color, audio, and seating options?

Check, check, and check.

The second item is “The Startup That Made Office Phone Booths for Google, Uber, and NASA Is Selling Modular Work Pods.” Surprise. These are squarish versions of the meditation egg. We learn:

The modular pods are like pop-up meeting rooms with extra ventilation, and Room is also offering a new analysis tool to give clients data on how office space is used, and how employees can safely return. Room’s proposal is just one idea popping up about how to work during a pandemic. Architect and designer Mohamed Radwan created a system of airtight office pods with air purifiers, and many other designers have created tiny backyard offices, or even ways to transform the home into an office, tastefully.

Interesting. Is this a trend?

DarkCyber remembers a wonderful night in a Japanese capsule hotel in 1999 or 2000. One of the team members said:

These look like three coffins bolted together.

Another noted:

Tiny houses designed by a D student in Architecture 101.

Either way, one can go from bowling alone to thinking or working alone. No information is available about injecting the scent of a bowling alley into the structures.

Stephen E Arnold, September 15, 2020

Nvidia Arm: An Artificial Intelligence Angle. Oh, Maybe a Monopoly Play Too?

September 14, 2020

As the claims, rumors, and outrage about Nvidia’s alleged acquisition of ARM swirl, DarkCyber noted an interesting story in ExtremeTech. “Nvidia Buys ARM for $40 Billion, Plans New AI Research Center” states:

According to Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang,

We are joining arms with Arm to create the leading computing company for the age of AI. AI is the most powerful technology force of our time. Learning from data, AI supercomputers can write software no human can. Amazingly, AI software can perceive its environment, infer the best plan, and act intelligently. This new form of software will expand computing to every corner of the globe. Someday, trillions of computers running AI will create a new internet — the internet-of-things — thousands of times bigger than today’s internet-of-people. In the same letter, Jensen notes that Nvidia will build a “world-class” AI center in Cambridge, where a state-of-the-art ARM-based supercomputer will conduct research. [Emphasis added by DarkCyber]

Assume the deal goes through. Assume Nvidia creates a new AI research center. Are there some implications of this type of move? Who knows, but it is often helpful to identify some potential downstream consequences:

  1. Nvidia becomes the de facto supplier of silicon for supercomputers
  2. Amazon, already keen on Nvidia, ramps up its efforts to boost Sagemaker and allied technologies in the AWS environment
  3. Google and Microsoft have to do some thinking about their approach to next-generation silicon
  4. IBM may be inspired to do more than issue Intel style news releases about creating stable silicon using fabrication techniques outside their competencies at this time
  5. Chinese and China-allied semiconductor companies will have to shift into a higher gear and amp up their marketing

Will the deal, if it takes place, create the semiconductor equivalent of a Facebook monopoly?

That’s a possibility. Those US regulators are on the job, ever vigilant, just like those on Wall Street.

Stephen E Arnold, September 17, 2020

Amazon: Nope, We Do Not Have an Interest in Intelware

September 10, 2020

A number of individuals have informed me that Amazon has zero interest in what I call “intelware.” The term refers to services, features, and information products designed to meet the needs of certain government agencies. These individuals are convinced that Amazon sells online books and discounted wireless headphones.

I would point out that there are some who do not accept this denial. One example appears in the “real news” outfit The Verge’s article titled “Former NSA Chief Keith Alexander Has Joined Amazon’s Board of Directors.” General Alexander is a capable individual, and he can share his experience and wisdom to refine the process of selling electric toothbrushes and other fungible oddments. After retiring, he founded IronNet Cybersecurity. Kindles can never be too secure.

As for intelware, Amazon is not in that business. At least, that’s what I have been told. Are there challenges beyond JEDI? Obviously not.

Stephen E Arnold, September 10, 2020

Google: Putting Ads First. Users, Please, Step to the Rear of the Bus

September 9, 2020

DarkCyber spotted this item on the Google Chrome support page: “Can’t disable Chrome Mobile video autoplay. Have set to Blocked in Site Settings; still autoplaying.” The idea is that a person checking out a video on YouTube, for example, will be subjected to a stream of videos that just play. This is a variant of the Energizer Bunny, except that those batteries don’t die. The autoplay bunny is an almost forever thing. There are some amusing and interesting comments from users at the back of the digital bus; for instance:

You need to disable java feature in settings. Chrome forcing user playing videos in background for monetary reasons.

Imagine! Monetary reasons. Is the Google taking steps to get in front of the impending legal tussles looming from states, national governments, and now, maybe, users?

Oh, one more comment from a user who does not matter in the here and now Google context:

I hate that I have also had to leave Chrome but I can’t stand the autoplay videos.  I want to be able to choose what I want to read and what I want to listen/watch.  Will retire Chrome until it is fixed.

The driver of the chrome Google bus may say, “Pipe down or you will be banned.”

Would Google say that to a user?

Stephen E Arnold, September 9, 2020

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