Academic Publisher Retracts Record Number of Papers

June 20, 2017

To the scourge of fake news we add the problem of fake research. Retraction Watch announces “A New Record: Major Publisher Retracting More Than 100 Studies from Cancer Journal over Fake Peer Reviews.”  We learn that Springer Publishing Company has just retracted 107 papers from a single journal after discovering their peer reviews had been falsified. Faking the integrity of cancer research? That’s pretty low. The article specifies:

To submit a fake review, someone (often the author of a paper) either makes up an outside expert to review the paper, or suggests a real researcher — and in both cases, provides a fake email address that comes back to someone who will invariably give the paper a glowing review. In this case, Springer, the publisher of Tumor Biology through 2016, told us that an investigation produced “clear evidence” the reviews were submitted under the names of real researchers with faked emails. Some of the authors may have used a third-party editing service, which may have supplied the reviews. The journal is now published by SAGE. The retractions follow another sweep by the publisher last year, when Tumor Biology retracted 25 papers for compromised review and other issues, mostly authored by researchers based in Iran.

The article shares Springer’s response to the matter, some from their official statement and some from a spokesperson. For example, we learn the company cut ties with the “Tumor Biology” owners, and that the latest fake reviews were caught during a process put in place after that debacle.  See the story for more details.

Cynthia Murrell, June 20, 2017

Algorithms Are Getting Smarter at Identifying Human Behavior

June 19, 2017

Algorithm deployed by large tech firms are better at understanding human behaviors, reveals former Google data scientist.

In an article published by Business Insider titled A Former Google Data Scientist Explains Why Netflix Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz says:

Many gyms have learned to harness the power of people’s over-optimism. Specifically, he said, “they’ve figured out you can get people to buy monthly passes or annual passes, even though they’re not going to use the gym nearly enough to warrant this purchase.

Companies like Netflix use this to their benefit. For instance, during initial years, Netflix used to encourage users to create playlists. However, most users ended up watching the same run of the mill content. Netflix thus made changes and started recommending content that was similar to their content watching habits. It only proves one thing, algorithms are getting smarter at understanding and predicting human behaviors, and that is both good and bad.

Vishal Ingole,  June 19, 2017

U.S. Government Keeping Fewer New Secrets

February 24, 2017

We have good news and bad news for fans of government transparency. In their Secrecy News blog, the Federation of American Scientists’ reports, “Number of New Secrets in 2015 Near Historic Low.” Writer Steven Aftergood explains:

The production of new national security secrets dropped precipitously in the last five years and remained at historically low levels last year, according to a new annual report released today by the Information Security Oversight Office.

There were 53,425 new secrets (‘original classification decisions’) created by executive branch agencies in FY 2015. Though this represents a 14% increase from the all-time low achieved in FY 2014, it is still the second lowest number of original classification actions ever reported. Ten years earlier (2005), by contrast, there were more than 258,000 new secrets.

The new data appear to confirm that the national security classification system is undergoing a slow-motion process of transformation, involving continuing incremental reductions in classification activity and gradually increased disclosure. …

Meanwhile, ‘derivative classification activity,’ or the incorporation of existing secrets into new forms or products, dropped by 32%. The number of pages declassified increased by 30% over the year before.

A marked decrease in government secrecy—that’s the good news. On the other hand, the report reveals some troubling findings. For one thing, costs are not going down alongside classifications; in fact, they rose by eight percent last year. Also, response times to mandatory declassification requests (MDRs) are growing, leaving over 14,000 such requests to languish for over a year each. Finally, fewer newly classified documents carry the “declassify in ten years or less” specification, which means fewer items will become declassified automatically down the line.

Such red-tape tangles notwithstanding, the reduction in secret classifications does look like a sign that the government is moving toward more transparency. Can we trust the trajectory?

Cynthia Murrell, February 24, 2017

Investment Group Acquires Lexmark

February 15, 2017

We read with some trepidation the Kansas City Business Journal’s article, “Former Perceptive’s Parent Gets Acquired for $3.6B in Cash.”  The parent company referred to here is Lexmark, which bought up one of our favorite search systems, ISYS Search, in 2012 and placed it under its Perceptive subsidiary, based in Lenexa, Kentucky. We do hope this valuable tool is not lost in the shuffle.

Reporter Dora Grote specifies:

A few months after announcing that it was exploring ‘strategic alternatives,’ Lexmark International Inc. has agreed to be acquired by a consortium of investors led by Apex Technology Co. Ltd. and PAG Asia Capital for $3.6 billion cash, or $40.50 a share. Legend Capital Management Co. Ltd. is also a member of the consortium.

Lexmark Enterprise Software in Lenexa, formerly known as Perceptive Software, is expected to ‘continue unaffected and benefit strategically and financially from the transaction’ the company wrote in a release. The Lenexa operation — which makes enterprise content management software that helps digitize paper records — dropped the Perceptive Software name for the parent’s brand in 2014. Lexmark, which acquired Perceptive for $280 million in cash in 2010, is a $3.7 billion global technology company.

If the Lexmark Enterprise Software (formerly known as Perceptive) division will be unaffected, it seems they will be the lucky ones. Grote notes that Lexmark has announced that more than a thousand jobs are to be cut amid restructuring. She also observes that the company’s buildings in Lenexa have considerable space up for rent. Lexmark CEO Paul Rooke is expected to keep his job, and headquarters should remain in Lexington, Kentucky.

Cynthia Murrell, February 15, 2017

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

February 7, 2017

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

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

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

Chelsea Kerwin, February 7, 2017

JustOne: When a Pivot Is Not Possible

February 4, 2017

CopperEye hit my radar when I did a project for the now-forgotten Speed of Mind search system. CopperEye delivered high speed search in a patented hierarchical data management system. The company snagged some In-Q-Tel interest in 2007, but by 2009, I lost track of the company. Several of the CopperEye senior managers teamed to create the JustOne database, search and analytic system. One of the new company’s inventions is documented in “Apparatus, Systems, and Methods for Data Storage and/or Retrieval Based on a Database Model-agnostic, Schema-Agnostic, and Workload-Agnostic Data Storage and Access Models.” If you are into patent documents about making sense of Big Data, you will find US20140317115 interesting. I will leave it to you to determine if there is any overlap between this system and method and those of the now low profile CopperEye.

Why would In-Q-Tel get interested in another database? From my point of view, CopperEye was interesting because:

  1. The system and method was idea for finding information from large collections of intercept information
  2. The tech whiz behind the JustOne system wanted to avoid “band-aid” architectures; that is, software shims, wrappers, and workarounds that other data management and information access systems generated like rabbits
  3. The method of finding information achieved or exceeded the performance of the very, very snappy Speed of Mind system
  4. The system sidestepped a number of the problems which plague Oracle-style databases trying to deal with floods of real time information from telecommunication traffic, surveillance, and Internet of Things transmissions or “emissions.”

How import6ant is JustOne? I think the company is one of those outfits which has a better mousetrap. Unlike the champions of XML, JustOne uses JSON and other “open” technologies. In fact, a useful version of the JustOne system is available for download from the JustOne Web site. Be aware that the name “JustOne” is in use by other vendors.

image

The fragmented world of database and information access. Source: Duncan Pauly

A good, but older, write up explains some of the strengths of the JustOne approach to search and retrieval couched in the lingo of the database world. The key points from “The Evolution of Data Management” strikes me as helpful in understanding why Jerry Yang and Scott McNealy invested in the CopperEye veterans’ start up. I highlighted these points:

  • Databases have to be operational and analytical; that is, storing information is not enough
  • Transaction rates are high; that is, real time flows from telecommunications activity
  • Transaction size varies from the very small to hefty; that is, the opposite of the old school records associated with old school IBM IMS system
  • High concurrency; that is, more than one “thing” at a time
  • Dynamic schema and query definition

I highlighted this statement as suggestive:

In scaled-out environments, transactions need to be able to choose what guarantees they require – rather than enforcing or relaxing ACID constraints across a whole database. Each transaction should be able to decide how synchronous, atomic or durable it needs to be and how it must interact with other transactions. For example, must a transaction be applied in chronological order or can it be allowed out of time order with other transactions providing the cumulative result remains the same? Not all transactions need be rigorously ACID and likewise not all transactions can afford to be non-atomic or potentially inconsistent.

My take on this CopperEye wind down and JustOne wind up is that CopperEye, for whatever management reason, was not able to pivot from where CopperEye was to where CopperEye had to be to grow. More information is available from the JustOne Database Web site at www.justonedb.com.

Is Duncan Pauly one of the most innovative engineers laboring in the database search sector? Could be.

Stephen E Arnold, February 4, 2017

HonkinNews for January 17, 2017 Now Available

January 17, 2017

This week’s HonkinNews takes a look at Yahoo’s post Verizon name. No, our suggestion of yabba dabba hoo or was it “hoot” was not ignored by Yahoo’s marketing wizards. We also highlight Alphabet Google’s erasure of two letters from its “alphabet.” Goners are “S” and “T”. Palantir is hiring a people centric person. The fancy title may have an interesting spin. Two enterprise search vendors kick off 2017 with a blizzard of buzzwords. The depth of the cacaphones is remarkable because search by any other name would return results with questionable precision and recall. The featured story is the Mitre’s Corporation Jason Report. If you have an interest in artificial intelligence and warfighting, the report provides some insight into what the US Department of Defense may be considering. But the highlight of the unclassified document is a helpful description of Google’s TPU. The seven minute program is at this link. For fans of XQuery, we have a bit of input for you too. Proprietary XQuery too. The program is produced in old fashioned black and white and enhanced with theme music from the days of the Stutz Bearcat. From the hotbed of search and content processing, HonkinNews is different. We’re presenting information other big time outfits ignore. Mitre is a variant of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research. There you go. Live from Harrod’s Creek.

Kenny Toth, January 17, 2017

Yahoo Takes on ISIS, in Its Way

January 9, 2017

The article on VentureBeat titled Yahoo Takes Steps to Remove Content Posted From ISIS and Other Terrorist Groups remarks on the recent changes Yahoo made to its community guidelines. The updated guidelines now specify that any content or accounts involved with terrorist organizations, even those that “celebrate” violence connected to terrorist activity are up for deletion or deactivation. The article speaks to the relevance of these new guidelines that follow hard upon the heels of Orlando and San Bernardino,

Twitter has responded as well, “suspending over 125,000 accounts” related to terrorism. Messaging app Telegram has also blocked 78 channels that engaged in ISIS-related activity. Kathleen Lefstad, Yahoo’s policy manager for trust and safety, wrote that this new category is in addition to other types of content that are flagged, including hate speech, bullying or harassment, and sharing adult or sexualized content of someone without their consent.

ISIS has grown infamous for its social media presence and ability to draw foreign supporters through social media platforms. Yahoo’s crackdown is a welcome sign of awareness that these platforms must take some responsibility for how their services are being abused. Priorities, folks. If Facebook’s machine learning content security can remove any sign of a woman’s nipple within 24 hours, shouldn’t content that endorses terrorism be deleted in half the time?

Chelsea Kerwin, January 9, 2017

When Censorship Means More Money, Facebook Leans In

December 8, 2016

The article on Vanity Fair titled Facebook Is Reportedly Building a Censorship Tool to Win Over China suggests that the people nervous about what it will mean to address the fake news proliferation are correct. The fear that Facebook managing fake news stories might lead to actual censorship of the news is not so far-fetched after all. The article states,

Auditing fake news is considered to be a slippery-slope problem for the company, which is just now starting to use fact-checkers to “grade” the veracity of news stories shared on its Web site and to crack down on false or partially false news stories shared on Facebook. Still, beneath it all, Facebook remains a publicly traded company with a fiduciary duty to its shareholders—and that duty is to make money.

Zuckerberg’s interest in capturing China’s 700M+ internet users has led to the creation of a censorship tool that can “automatically suppress content in specific geographic areas.” The tool has not been implemented (yet), but it suggests that Zuckerberg has a flexible relationship with freedom of information, especially where money is at stake. And there is a lot of money at stake. The article delves into the confusion over whether Facebook is a media company or not. But whatever type of company it is, it is a company. And that means money comes first.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 8, 2016

Fake and Bake: Wikileaks Excitement

November 29, 2016

I love the chatter about fake news. I noted the story “Putting This Out There for Everyone’s Information (Is This for Real?) Before ItsNews 11-18-16… Wikileaks Is Gone.” According to the write up, a person named Jim Stone thinks that Wikileaks is a gone goose. The source cited above “felt drawn to put this [the story about Wikileaks as a disappeared organization] out there. To step away from the possibility that the story is bogus, the author of Kauilapele blog crawfishes:

Once more, I do not know for sure if this is true.

What’s the big reveal? Here you go:

The destruction of WikiLeaks was an unprecedented global effort.

There you go. Will accuracy and truthiness algorithms snag the Kauilapele item as possibly incorrect? Run those Bing, Google, and Yandex queries and decide for yourself.

Stephen E Arnold, November 29, 2016

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta