AI Versus People? That Is Easy. AI

April 25, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I don’t like to include management information in Beyond Search. I have noticed more stories related to management decisions related to information technology. Here’s an example of my breaking my own editorial policies. Navigate to “SF Exec Defends Brutal Tech Trend: Lay Off Workers to Free Up Cash for AI.” I noted this passage:

Executives want fatter pockets for investing in artificial intelligence.


Okay, Mr. Efficiency and mobile phone betting addict, you have reached a logical decision. Why are there no pictures of friends, family, and achievements in your window office? Oh, that’s MSFT Copilot’s work. What’s that say?

I think this means that “people resources” can be dumped in order to free up cash to place bets on smart software. The write up explains the management decision making this way:

Dropbox’s layoff was largely aimed at freeing up cash to hire more engineers who are skilled in AI.

How expensive is AI for the big technology companies? The write up provides this factoid which comes from the masterful management bastion:

Google AI leader Demis Hassabis said the company would likely spend more than $100 billion developing AI.

Smart software is the next big thing. Big outfits like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft believe it. Venture firms appear to be into AI. Software development outfits are beavering away with smart technology to make their already stellar “good enough” products even better.

Money buys innovation until it doesn’t. The reason is that the time from roll out to saturation can be difficult to predict. Look how long it has taken the smart phones to become marketing exercises, not technology demonstrations. How significant is saturation? Look at the machinations at Apple or CPUs that are increasingly difficult to differentiate for a person who wants to use a laptop for business.

There are benefits. These include:

  • Those getting fired can say, “AI RIF’ed me.”
  • Investments in AI can perk up investors.
  • Jargon-savvy consultants can land new clients.
  • Leadership teams can rise about termination because these wise professionals are the deciders.

A few downsides can be identified despite the immaturity of the sector:

  • Outputs can be incorrect leading to what might be called poor decisions. (Sorry, Ms. Smith, your child died because the smart dosage system malfunctioned.)
  • A large, no-man’s land is opening between the fast moving start ups who surf on cloud AI services and the behemoths providing access to expensive infrastructure. Who wants to operate in no-man’s land?
  • The lack of controls on smart software guarantee that bad actors will have ample tools with which to innovate.
  • Knock-on effects are difficult to predict.

Net net: AI may be diffusing more quickly and in ways some experts chose to ignore… until they are RIF’ed.

Stephen E Arnold, April 25, 2024

Kicking Cans Down the Street Is Not Violence. Is It a Type of Fraud Perhaps?

April 25, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Ah, spring, when young men’s fancies turn to thoughts of violence. Forget the Iran Israel dust up. Forget the Russia special operation. Think about this Bloomberg headline:

Tech’s Cash Crunch Sees Creditors Turn ‘Violent’ With One Another


Thanks, ChatGPT. Good enough.

Will this be drones? Perhaps a missile or two? No. I think it will be marketing hoo hah. Even though news releases may not inflict mortal injury, although someone probably has died from bad publicity, the rhetorical tone seems — how should we phrase it — over the top maybe?

The write up says:

Software and services companies are in the spotlight after issuing almost $30 billion of debt that’s classed as distressed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, the most in any industry apart from real estate.

How do wizards of finance react to this “risk”? Answer:

“These two phenomena, coupled with the covenant-lite nature of leveraged loans today, have been the primary drivers of the creditor-on-creditor violence we’re seeing,” he [Jason Mudrick, founder of distressed credit investor Mudrick Capital] said.

Shades of the Sydney slashings or vehicle fires in Paris.

Here’s an example:

One increasingly popular maneuver these days, known as non-pro rata uptiering, sees companies cut a deal with a small group of creditors who provide new money to the borrower, pushing others further back in the line to be repaid. In return, they often partake in a bond exchange in which they receive a better swap price than other creditors.

Does this sound like “Let’s kick the can down the road.” Not articulated is the idea, “Let’s see what happens. If we fail, our management team is free to bail out.”

Nifty, right?

Financial engineering is a no harm, no foul game for some. Those who lose money? Yeah, too bad.

Stephen E Arnold, April 25, 2024

Is Grandma Google Making Erratic Decisions?

April 24, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Clowny Fish TV is unknown to me. The site published a write up which I found interesting and stuffed full of details I had not seen previously. The April 18, 2024,  essay is “YouTubers Claim YouTube is Very Broken Right Now.” Let’s look at a handful of examples and see if these spark any thoughts in my dinobaby mind. As Vladimir Shmondenko says, “Let’s go.”


Grandma Googzilla has her view of herself. Nosce teipsum, right? Thanks, MSFT Copilot. How’s your security today?

Here’s a statement to consider:

Over the past 72 hours, YouTubers have been complaining on X about everything from delayed comments to a noticeable decline in revenue and even videos being removed by Google for nebulous reasons after being online for years.

Okay, sluggish functions from the video ad machine. I have noticed either slow-loading or dead video ads; that is, the ads take a long time (maybe a second or two to 10 seconds to show up) or nothing happens and a “Skip” button just appears. No ad to skip. I wonder, “Do the advertisers pay for a non-displayed ad followed by a skip?” I assume there is some fresh Google word salad available in the content cafeteria, but I have not spotted it. Those arrests have, however, caught my attention.

Another item from the essay:

In fact, many longtime YouTube content creators have announced their retirements from the platform over the past year, and I have to wonder if these algorithm changes aren’t a driving force behind that. There’s no guarantee that there will be room for the “you” in YouTube six months from now, let alone six years from now.

I am not sure I know many of the big-time content creators. I do know that the famous Mr. Beast has formed a relationship with the Amazon Twitch outfit. Is that megastar hedging his bets? I think he is. Those videos cost big bucks and could be on broadcast TV if there were a functioning broadcast television service in the US.

How about this statement:

On top of the algorithm shift, and on top of the monetization hit, Google is now reportedly removing old videos that violate their current year Terms of Service.

Shades of the 23andMe approach to Terms of Service. What struck me is that one of my high school history teachers  — I think his name was Earl Skaggs — railed against Joseph Stalin’s changing Russian history and forcing textbooks to be revised to present Mr. Stalin’s interpretation of reality. Has Google management added changing history to their bag of tricks. I know that arresting employees is a useful management tool, but I have been relying on news reports. Maybe those arrests were “fake news.” Nothing surprises me where online information is in the mix.

I noted this remarkable statement in the Clown Fish TV essay:

Google was the glue that held all these websites together and let people get found. We’re seeing what a world looks like without Google. Because for many content creators and journalists, it’ll be practically worthless going forward.

I have selected a handful of items. The original article includes screenshots, quotes from people whom I assume are “experts” or whatever passes as an authority today, and a of Google algorithm questioning. But any of the Googlers with access to the algorithm can add a tweak or create a “wrapper” to perform a specific task. I am not sure too many Googlers know how to fiddle the plumbing anymore. Some of the “clever” code is now more than 25 years old. (People make fun of mainframes. Should more Kimmel humor be directed at 25 year old Google software?)

Observations are indeed warranted:

  1. I read Google criticism on podcasts; I read criticism of Google online. Some people are falling out of love with the Google.
  2. Google muffed the bunny with its transformer technology. By releasing software as open source, the outfit may have unwittingly demonstrated how out of touch its leadership team is and opened the door to some competitors able to move more quickly than Grandma Google. Microsoft. Davos. AI. Ah, yes.
  3. The Sundar & Prabhakar School of Strategic Thinking has allowed Google search to become an easy target. Metasearch outfits recycling poor old Bing results are praised for being better than Google. That’s quite an achievement and a verification that some high-school science club management methods don’t work as anticipated. I won’t mention arresting employees again. Oh, heck. I will. Google called the police on its own staff. Slick. Professional.

Net net: Clown Fish TV definitely has presented a useful image of Grandma Google and her video behaviors.

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2024

Fake Books: Will AI Cause Harm or Do Good?

April 24, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I read what I call a “howl” from a person who cares about “good” books. Now “good” is a tricky term to define. It is similar to “quality” or “love.” I am not going to try to define any of these terms. Instead I want to look at one example of smart software creating a problem for humans who create books. Then I want to focus attention on Amazon, the online bookstore. I think about two-thirds of American shoppers have some interaction with Amazon. That percentage is probably low if we narrow to top earners in the US. I want to wrap up with a reminder to those who think about smart software that the diffusion of technology chugs along and then — bang! — phase change. Spoiler: That’s what AI is doing now, and the pace is accelerating.


The Copilot images illustrates how smart software spreads. Cleaning up is a bit of a chore. The table cloth and the meeting may be ruined. But that’s progress of sorts, isn’t it?

The point of departure is an essay cum “real” news write up about fake books titled “Amazon Is Filled with Garbage Ebooks. Here’s How They Get Made.”

. These books are generated by smart software and Fiverr-type labor. Dump the content in a word processor, slap on a title, and publish the work on Amazon. I write my books by hand, and I try to label that which I write or pay people to write as “the work of a dumb dinobaby.” Other authors do not follow my practice. Let many flowers bloom.

The write up states:

It’s so difficult for most authors to make a living from their writing that we sometimes lose track of how much money there is to be made from books, if only we could save costs on the laborious, time-consuming process of writing them. The internet, though, has always been a safe harbor for those with plans to innovate that pesky writing part out of the actual book publishing.

This passage explains exactly why fake books are created. The fact of fake books makes clear that AI technology diffusing; that is, smart software is turning up in places and ways that the math people fiddling the numerical recipes or the engineers hooking up thousands of computing units envisioned. Why would they? How many mathy types are able to remember their mother’s birthday?

The path for the “fake book” is easy money. The objective is not excellence, sophisticated demonstration of knowledge, or the mindlessness of writing a book “because.” The angst in the cited essay comes from the side of the coin that wants books created the old-fashioned way. Yeah, I get it. But today it is clear that the hand crafted books are going to face some challenges in the marketplace. I anticipate that “quality” fake books will convert the “real” book to the equivalent of a cuneiform tablet. Don’t like this? I am a dinobaby, and I call the trajectory as my experience and research warrants.

Now what about buying fake books on Amazon? Anyone can get an ISBN, but for Amazon, no ISBN is (based on our tests) no big deal. Amazon has zero incentive to block fake books. If someone wants a hard copy of a fake book, let Amazon’s own instant print service produce the copy. Amazon is set up to generate revenue, not be a grumpy grandmother forcing grandchildren to pick up after themselves. Amazon could invest to squelch fraudulent or suspect behaviors. But here’s a representative Amazon word salad explanation cited in the “Garbage Ebooks” essay:

In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Ashley Vanicek said, “We aim to provide the best possible shopping, reading, and publishing experience, and we are constantly evaluating developments that impact that experience, which includes the rapid evolution and expansion of generative AI tools.”

Yep, I suggest not holding one’s breath until Amazon spends money to address a pervasive issue within its service array.

Now the third topic: Slowly, slowly, then the frog dies. Smart software in one form or another has been around a half century or more. I can date smart software in the policeware / intelware sector to the late 1990s when commercial services were no longer subject to stealth operation or “don’t tell” business practices. For the ChatGPT-type services, NLP has been around longer, but it did not work largely due to computational costs and the hit-and-miss approaches of different research groups. Inference, DR-LINK, or one of the other notable early commercial attempts, anyone?

Okay, now the frog is dead, and everyone knows it. Better yet, navigate to any open source repository or respond to one of those posts on Pinboard or listings in Product Hunt, and you are good to go. Anthropic has released a cook book, just do-it-yourself ideas for building a start up with Anthropic tools. And if you write Microsoft Excel or Word macros for a living, you are already on the money road.

I am not sure Microsoft’s AI services work particularly well, but the stuff is everywhere. Microsoft is spending big to make sure it is not left out of an AI lunches in Dubai. I won’t describe the impact of the Manhattan chatbot. That’s a hoot. (We cover this slip up in the AItoAI video pod my son and I do once each month. You can find that information about NYC at this link.)

Net net: The tipping point has been reached. AI is tumbling and its impact will be continuous — at least for a while. And books? Sure, great books like those from Twitter luminaries will sell. To those without a self-promotion rail gun, cloudy days ahead. In fact, essays like “Garbage Ebooks” will be cranked out by smart software. Most people will be none the wiser. We are not facing a dead Internet; we are facing the death of high-value information. When data are synthetic, what’s original thinking got to do with making money?

Stephen E Arnold, April 24, 2024

So Much for Silicon Valley Solidarity

April 23, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I thought the entity called Benzinga was a press release service. Guess not. I received a link to what looked like a “real” news story written by a Benzinga Staff Writer name Jain Rounak. “Elon Musk Reacts As Marc Andreessen Says Google Is ‘Literally Run By Employee Mobs’ With ‘Chinese Spies’ Scooping Up AI Chip Designs.” The article is a short one, and it is not exactly what the title suggested to me. Nevertheless, let’s take a quick look at what seems to be some ripping of the Silicon Valley shibboleth of solidarity.


The members of the Happy Silicon Valley Social club are showing signs of dissention. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. How is your security today? Oh, really.

The hook for the story is another Google employee protest. The cause was a deal for Google to provide cloud services to Israel. I assume the Googlers split along ethno-political-religious lines: One group cheering for Hamas and another for Israel. (I don’t have any first-hand evidence, so I am leveraging the scant information in the Benzinga news story.

Then what? Apparently Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame and AI polemics offered some thoughts. I am not sure where these assertions were made or if they are on the money. But, I grant to Benzinga, that the Andreessen emissions are intriguing. Let’s look at one:

“The company is literally overrun by employee mobs, Chinese spies are walking AI chip designs out the door, and they turn the Founding Fathers and the Nazis black.”

The idea that there are “Google mobs” running from Foosball court to vending machines and then to their quiet space and then to the parking lot is interesting. Where’s Charles Dickens of Tale of Two Cities fame when you need an observer to document a revolution. Are Googlers building barricades in the passage ways? Are Prius and Tesla vehicles being set on fire?

In the midst of this chaotic environment, there are Chinese spies. I am not sure one has to walk chip designs anywhere. Emailing them or copying them from one Apple device to another works reasonably well in my experience. The reference to the Google art is a reminder that the high school management club approach to running a potential trillion dollar, alleged monopoly need some upgrades.

Where’s the Elon in this? I think I am supposed to realize that Elon and Andreessen are on the same mental wave length. The Google is not. Therefore, the happy family notion is shattered. Okay, Benzinga. Whatever. Drop those names. The facts? Well, drop those too.

Stephen E Arnold, April 23, 2024

More Inside Dope about McKinsey & Company

April 23, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

It appears that blue chip consultants are finding some choppy waters in the exclusive money pond at the knowledge country club.

I Was a Consultant at McKinsey. Here’s the Frustrating Way They Pushed Me Out” reveals some interesting but essentially personal assertions about the blue chip consulting firm. McKinsey & Co. is associated in my mind with the pharmaceutical industry’s money maker, synthetic opioids. Living in Kentucky, evidence about the chemical compound is fairly easy to spot. Drive East of my home. Check out Nitro, West Virginia, and you can gather more evidence.


ChatGPT captures an elite group pushing someone neither liked nor connected out the door. Good enough.

The main idea of the write up is that McKinsey is presented as an exclusive club. Being liked and having connections are more important than any other capability. A “best of the best” on the outs is left marooned in a cube. The only email comes from a consultant offering help related to finding one’s future elsewhere. Fun.

What’s the firm doing in the first quarter of 2024? If the information in the Business Insider article is on the money, McKinsey is reinventing itself. Here are some of the possibly accurate statements in the  article:

  1. McKinsey & Co. has found easy consulting money drying up
  2. The firm is downsizing
  3. Work at McKinsey is mostly PowerPoint decks shaped to make the customer “look good”
  4. McKinsey does not follow its own high-value consulting advice when it comes to staffing.

What does the write up suggest? That is a question with different answers. For someone who has never worked at a blue chip consulting firm, the answer is, “Who cares?” For a person with some exposure to these outfits, the answer is, “So what’s new?” From an objective and reasonably well informed vantage point, the answer may be, “Are consulting firms a bunch of baloney?”

Change, however, is afoot. Let me cite one example. Competition for the blue-chip outfits was once narrowly defined. Now the competition is coming from unexpected places. I will offered one example to get your thought process rolling. Axios, a publishing company owned by , is now positioning its journalists as “experts.” Instead of charging a couple thousand of dollars per hour, Axios will sell a “name brand expert,” video calls, and special news reports. Plus, Axios will jump into the always-exciting world of conferences in semi-nice places.

How will McKinsey and its ilk respond? Will these firms reveal that they are also publishing houses and have been since their inception? Will they morph into giants of artificial intelligence, possibly creating their own models from the reams of proprietary reports, memoranda, emails, and consultant notes? Will McKinsey buy an Axios-type outfit and morph into something the partners from the 1960s would never recognize? Will blue-chip firms go out of business as individuals low-ball engagements to cash-conscious clients?

Net net: When a firm like McKinsey finds itself pilloried for failure to follow its own advice, the future is uncertain. Perhaps McKinsey should call another blue chip outfit? Better yet, buy some help from GLG or Coleman.

Stephen E Arnold, April 23, 2024

The National Public Radio Entity Emulates Grandma

April 17, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I can hear my grandmother telling my cousin Larry. Chew your food. Or… no television for you tonight. The time was 6 30 pm. The date was March 3, 1956. My cousin and I were being “watched” when our parents were at a political rally and banquet. Grandmother was in charge, and my cousin was edging close to being sent to grandfather for a whack with his wooden paddle. Tough love I suppose. I was a good boy. I chewed my food and worked to avoid the Wrath of Ma. I did the time travel thing when I read “NPR Suspends Veteran Editor As It Grapples with His Public Criticism.” I avoid begging for dollars outfits. I had no idea what the issue is or was.


“Gea’t haspoy” which means in grandmother speak: “That’s it. No TV for you tonight. In the morning, both of you are going to help Grandpa mow the yard and rake up the grass.” Thanks, NPR. Oh, sorry, thanks MSFT Copilot. You do the censorship thing too, don’t you?

The write up explains:

NPR has formally punished Uri Berliner, the senior editor who publicly argued a week ago that the network had “lost America’s trust” by approaching news stories with a rigidly progressive mindset.

Oh, I get it. NPR allegedly shapes stories. A “real” journalist does not go along with the program. The progressive leaning outfit ignores the free speech angle. The “real” journalist is punished with five days in a virtual hoosegow. An NPR “real” journalist published an essay critical of NPR and then vented on a podcast.

The article I have cited is an NPR article. I guess self criticism is progressive trait maybe? Any way, the article about the grandma action stated:

In rebuking Berliner, NPR said he had also publicly released proprietary information about audience demographics, which it considers confidential. He said those figures “were essentially marketing material. If they had been really good, they probably would have distributed them and sent them out to the world.”

There is no hint that this “real” journalist shares beliefs believed to be held by Julian Assange or that bold soul Edward Snowden, both of whom have danced with super interesting information.

Several observations:

  1. NPR’s suspending an employee reminds me of my grandmother punishing us for not following her wacky rules
  2. NPR is definitely implementing a type of information shaping; if it were not, what’s the big deal about a grousing employee? How many of these does Google have protesting in a year?
  3. Banning a person who is expressing an opinion strikes me as a tasty blend of and that master motivator Joe Stalin. But that’s just my dinobaby mind have a walk-about.

Net net: What media are not censoring, muddled, and into acting like grandma?

Stephen E Arnold, April 15, 2024

A Less Crazy View of AI: From Kathmandu via Tufts University

April 16, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I try to look for interesting write ups from numerous places. Some in Kentucky (well, not really) and others in farther flung locations like Kathmandu. I read “The boring truth about AI.” The article was not boring in my opinion. The author (Amar Bhidé) presented what seemed like a non-crazy, hyperbole-free discussion of smart software. I am not sure how many people in Greenspring, Kentucky, read the Khatmandu Post, but I am not sure how many people in Greenspring, Kentucky, can read.


Rah rah. Thanks, MSFT Copilot, you have the hands-on expertise to prove that the New York City chatbot is just the best system when it comes to providing information of a legal nature that is dead wrong. Rah rah.

What’s the Tufts University business professor say? Let’s take a look at several statements in the article.

First, I circled this passage:

As economic historian Nathan Rosenberg and many others have shown, transformative technologies do not suddenly appear out of the blue. Instead, meaningful advances require discovering and gradually overcoming many unanticipated problems.

Second, I put a blue check mark next to this segment:

Unlike the Manhattan Project, which proceeded at breakneck speed, AI developers have been at work for more than seven decades, quietly inserting AI into everything from digital cameras and scanners to smartphones, automatic braking and fuel-injection systems in cars, special effects in movies, Google searches, digital communications, and social-media platforms. And, as with other technological advances, AI has long been put to military and criminal uses. Yet AI advances have been gradual and uncertain.

The author references IBM’s outstanding Watson system. I think that’s part of the gradual and uncertain in the hands of Big Blue’s marketing professionals.

Finally, I drew a happy face next to this:

Perhaps LLM chatbots can increase profits by providing cheap if maddening, customer service. Someday, a breakthrough may dramatically increase the technology’s useful scope. For now, though, these oft-mendacious talking horses warrant neither euphoria nor panic about “existential risks to humanity.” Best keep calm and let the traditional decentralised evolution of technology, laws, and regulations carry on.

I would suggest that a more pragmatic and less frenetic approach to smart software makes more sense than the wild and crazy information zapped from podcasts and conference presentations.

Stephen E Arnold, April 16, 2024

Is This Incident the Price of Marketing: A Lesson for Specialized Software Companies

April 12, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

A comparatively small number of firms develop software an provide specialized services to analysts, law enforcement, and intelligence entities. When I started work at a nuclear consulting company, these firms were low profile. In fact, if one tried to locate the names of the companies in one of those almost-forgotten reference books (remember telephone books), the job was a tough one. First, the firms would have names which meant zero; for example, Rice Labs or Gray & Associates. Next, if one were to call, a human (often a person with a British accent) would politely inquire, “To whom did you wish to speak?” The answer had to conform to a list of acceptable responses. Third, if you were to hunt up the address, you might find yourself in Washington, DC, staring at the second floor of a non-descript building once used to bake pretzels.


Decisions, decisions. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough. Does that phrase apply to one’s own security methods?

Today, the world is different. Specialized firms in a country now engaged in a controversial dust up in the Eastern Mediterranean has companies which have Web sites, publicize their capabilities as mechanisms to know your customer, or make sense of big data. The outfits have trade show presences. One outfit, despite between the poster child from going off the rails, gives lectures and provides previews of its technologies at public events. How times have changed since I have been working in commercial and government work since the early 1970s.

Every company, including those engaged in the development and deployment of specialized policeware and intelware are into marketing. The reason is cultural. Madison Avenue is the whoo-whoo part of doing something quite interesting and wanting to talk about the activity. The other reason is financial. Cracking tough technical problems costs money, and those who have the requisite skills are in demand. The fix, from my point of view, is to try to operate with a public presence while doing the less visible, often secret work required of these companies. The evolution of the specialized software business has been similar to figuring out how to walk a high wire over a circus crowd. Stay on the wire and the outfit is visible and applauded. Fall off the wire and fail big time. But more and more specialized software vendors make the decision to try to become visible and get recognition for their balancing act. I think the optimal approach is to stay out of the big tent avoid the temptations of fame, bright lights, and falling to one’s death.

Why CISA Is Warning CISOs about a Breach at Sisense” provides a good example of public visibility and falling off the high wire. The write up says:

New York City based Sisense has more than a thousand customers across a range of industry verticals, including financial services, telecommunications, healthcare and higher education. On April 10, Sisense Chief Information Security Officer Sangram Dash told customers the company had been made aware of reports that “certain Sisense company information may have been made available on what we have been advised is a restricted access server (not generally available on the internet.)”

Let me highlight one other statement in the write up:

The incident raises questions about whether Sisense was doing enough to protect sensitive data entrusted to it by customers, such as whether the massive volume of stolen customer data was ever encrypted while at rest in these Amazon cloud servers. It is clear, however, that unknown attackers now have all of the credentials that Sisense customers used in their dashboards.

This firm enjoys some visibility because it markets itself using the hot button “analytics.” The function of some of the Sisense technology is to integrate “analytics” into other products and services. Thus it is an infrastructure company, but one that may have more capabilities than other types of firms. The company has non commercial companies as well. If one wants to get “inside” data, Sisense has done a good job of marketing. The visibility makes it easy to watch. Someone with skills and a motive can put grease on the high wire. The article explains what happens when the actor slips up: “More than a thousand customers.”

How can a specialized software company avoid a breach? One step is to avoid visibility. Another is to curtail dreams of big money. Redefine success because those in your peer group won’t care much about you with or without big bucks. I don’t think that is just not part of the game plan of many specialized software companies today. Each time I visit a trade show featuring specialized software firms as speakers and exhibitors I marvel at the razz-ma-tazz the firms bring to the show. Yes, there is competition. But when specialized software companies, particularly those in the policeware and intelware business, market to both commercial and non-commercial firms, that visibility increases their visibility. The visibility attracts bad actors the way Costco roasted chicken makes my French bulldog shiver with anticipation. Tibby wants that chicken. But he is not a bad actor and will not get out of bounds. Others do get out of bounds. The fix is to move the chicken, then put it in the fridge. Tibby will turn his attention elsewhere. He is a dog.

Net net: Less blurring of commercial and specialized customer services might be useful. Fewer blogs, podcasts, crazy marketing programs, and oddly detailed marketing write ups to government agencies. (Yes, these documents can be FOIAed by the Brennan folks, for instance. Yes, those brochures and PowerPoints can find their way to public repositories.) Less marketing. More judgment. Increased security attention, please.

Stephen E Arnold, April 12, 2024

Are Experts Misunderstanding Google Indexing?

April 12, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Google is not perfect. More and more people are learning that the mystics of Mountain View are working hard every day to deliver revenue. In order to produce more money and profit, one must use Rust to become twice as wonderful than a programmer who labors to make C++ sit up, bark, and roll over. This dispersal of the cloud of unknowing obfuscating the magic of the Google can be helpful. What’s puzzling to me is that what Google does catches people by surprise. For example, consider the “real” news presented in “Google Books Is Indexing AI-Generated Garbage.” The main idea strikes me as:

But one unintended outcome of Google Books indexing AI-generated text is its possible future inclusion in Google Ngram viewer. Google Ngram viewer is a search tool that charts the frequencies of words or phrases over the years in published books scanned by Google dating back to 1500 and up to 2019, the most recent update to the Google Books corpora. Google said that none of the AI-generated books I flagged are currently informing Ngram viewer results.


Thanks, Microsoft Copilot. I enjoyed learning that security is a team activity. Good enough again.

Indexing lousy content has been the core function of Google’s Web search system for decades. Search engine optimization generates information almost guaranteed to drag down how higher-value content is handled. If the flagship provides the navigation system to other ships in the fleet, won’t those vessels crash into bridges?

In order to remediate Google’s approach to indexing requires several basic steps. (I have in various ways shared these ideas with the estimable Google over the years. Guess what? No one cared, understood, and if the Googler understood, did not want to increase overhead costs. So what are these steps? I shall share them:

  1. Establish an editorial policy for content. Yep, this means that a system and method or systems and methods are needed to determine what content gets indexed.
  2. Explain the editorial policy and what a person or entity must do to get content processed and indexed by the Google, YouTube, Gemini, or whatever the mystics in Mountain View conjure into existence
  3. Include metadata with each content object so one knows the index date, the content object creation date, and similar information
  4. Operate in a consistent, professional manner over time. The “gee, we just killed that” is not part of the process. Sorry, mystics.

Let me offer several observations:

  1. Google, like any alleged monopoly, faces significant management challenges. Moving information within such an enterprise is difficult. For an organization with a Foosball culture, the task may be a bit outside the wheelhouse of most young people and individuals who are engineers, not presidents of fraternities or sororities.
  2. The organization is under stress. The pressure is financial because controlling the cost of the plumbing is a reasonably difficult undertaking. Second, there is technical pressure. Google itself made clear that it was in Red Alert mode and keeps adding flashing lights with each and every misstep the firm’s wizards make. These range from contentious relationships with mere governments to individual staff member who grumble via internal emails, angry Googler public utterances, or from observed behavior at conferences. Body language does speak sometimes.
  3. The approach to smart software is remarkable. Individuals in the UK pontificate. The Mountain View crowd reassures and smiles — a lot. (Personally I find those big, happy looks a bit tiresome, but that’s a dinobaby for you.)

Net net: The write up does not address the issue that Google happily exploits. The company lacks the mental rigor setting and applying editorial policies requires. SEO is good enough to index. Therefore, fake books are certainly A-OK for now.

Stephen E Arnold, April 12, 2024

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