A Collection of Statistics on Chatbot Usage

November 14, 2017

As chatbots become increasingly common, businesses are naturally wondering how to make the most of them. Writer Josiah Motley at The Next Web has assembled user statistics from several sources and reports, “Chatbots Are Here to Stay, What the Data Is Telling Us About the People that Use Them.” He writes:

We know businesses are loving them thanks to better service times for customers and for certain problems to be solved automatically without the need for a (paid) human to jump in, but what about other statistics and interesting facts revolving around chatbots? Are people happy with them? Do they prefer a chatty AI or do they just want to cut to the chase? All of these are questions that will need to be asked when deciding if a chatbot is right for your business, so of course, there are companies out there that are breaking out the customer surveys and figuring out what people are liking, where they’re getting the most use, and a plethora of other random information about them.

The first bit of information Motley shares is how users are liking their chatbot experiences. Nearly half of the respondents to a survey from LivePerson had not had enough such chats to say, while 38% felt good about them and 11% were displeased. That survey also examined what respondents have been using chatbots for—67% had used one for customer service in the previous year, but just 14% for productivity. Then there are several usage trends sorted by US state, including most profanity used—see the write-up for those details (complete with bar graphs.) Motley insists that chatbots are becoming an indispensable part of a business, and each organization must now decide how best to use them to reach its own particular goals.

Cynthia Murrell, November 14, 2017

Google Deletes Idle Android Accounts

October 31, 2017

If you have future plans that take you overseas to areas with limited to zero smartphone connectivity for more than two months and you have an Android-based phone you are in trouble.  Vernonchan reports that “Google Will Delete Your Android Backups If Your Device Is Inactive For Two Months.”

It came as quite a shock for the article’s author and only came to light, because a Reddit user was caught off guard.  The story goes that the Reddit user sent his Nexus 6P in for a refund claim and while waiting for a replacement Android device, he used an old phone.  He thought his Nexus 6P backups were safe, but when he checked his Google Drive backup folder they were gone!

He found this document related to backups: “Manage & Restore Your Device Backups In Google.”  Here is what is found in the document:

The document briefly details about finding, managing, and deleting backups. Right at the end, Google explains what happens when your backup expires: ‘Your backup will remain as long as you use your device. If you don’t use your device for 2 weeks, you may see an expiration date below your backup. For instance: “Expires in 54 days.’

Note that once a backup is deleted, there is zero chance for recovery.

In other words, you are screwed!  If you use your device regularly, there is nothing to worry about.  But if you are headed overseas for that rare place on Earth without limited to zero smartphone access for an extended period you are doomed.  If you have a warranty claim or sent the device in for repair, there are concerns there as well.

The Reddit user was extremely surprised that he never received any warning from Google and thought that it would be a good PSA to alert others to the time limit on backups.

Google, we know you have a lot going on, but it is good customer service to alert your users to things as important as data deletion!

Whitney Grace, October 31, 2017

Black-Hat SEO Tactics Google Hates

November 16, 2016

The article on Search Engine Watch titled Guide to Black Hat SEO: Which Practices Will Earn You a Manual Penalty? follows up on a prior article that listed some of the sob stories of companies caught by Google using black-hat practices. Google does not take kindly to such activities, strangely enough. This article goes through some of those practices, which are meant to “falsely manipulate a website’s search position.”

Any kind of scheme where links are bought and sold is frowned upon, however money doesn’t necessarily have to change hands… Be aware of anyone asking to swap links, particularly if both sites operate in completely different niches. Also stay away from any automated software that creates links to your site. If you have guest bloggers on your site, it’s good idea to automatically Nofollow any links in their blog signature, as this can be seen as a ‘link trade’.

Other practices that earned a place on the list include automatically generated content, cloaking and irrelevant redirects, and hidden text and links. Doorway pages are multiple pages for a key phrase that lead visitors to the same end destination. If you think these activities don’t sound so terrible, you are in great company. Mozilla, BMW, and the BBC have all been caught and punished by Google for such tactics. Good or bad? You decide.

Chelsea Kerwin, November 16, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Can Analytics Be Cloud Friendly?

August 24, 2016

One of the problems with storing data in the cloud is that it is difficult to run analytics.  Sure, you can run tests to determine the usage of the cloud, but analyzing the data stored in the cloud is another story.  Program developers have been trying to find a solution to this problem and the open source community has developed some software that might be the ticket.  Ideata wrote about the newest Apache software in “Apache Spark-Comparing RDD, Dataframe, and Dataset.”

Ideata is a data software company and they built many of the headlining products on the open source software Apache Spark.  They have been using Apache Spark since 2013 and enjoy using it because it offers a rich abstraction, allows the developer to build complex workflows, and perform easy data analysis.

Apache Spark works like this:

Spark revolves around the concept of a resilient distributed dataset (RDD), which is a fault-tolerant collection of elements that can be operated on in parallel. An RDD is Spark’s representation of a set of data, spread across multiple machines in the cluster, with API to let you act on it. An RDD could come from any datasource, e.g. text files, a database via JDBC, etc. and can easily handle data with no predefined structure.

It can be used as the basis fort a user-friendly cloud analytics platform, especially if you are familiar with what can go wrong with a dataset.

Whitney Grace, August 24, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Decline of Free Software As a Failure of Leadership and Relevance

August 18, 2016

The article on Datamation titled 7 Reasons Why Free Software Is Losing Influence investigates some of the causes for the major slowdown in FOSS (free and open software software). The article lays much of the blame at the feet of the leader of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Richard Stallman. In spite of his major contributions to the free software movement, he is prickly and occasionally drops Joe Biden-esque gaffes detrimental to his cause. He also has an issue when it comes to sticking to his message and making his cause relevant. The article explains,

“Over the last few years, Richard Stallman has denounced cloud computinge-bookscell phones in general, and Android in particular. In each case, Stallman has raised issues of privacy and consumer rights that others all too often fail to mention. The trouble is, going on to ignore these new technologies solves nothing, and makes the free software movement more irrelevant in people’s lives. Many people are attracted to new technologies, and others are forced to use them because others are.”

In addition to Stallman’s difficult personality, which only accounts for a small part of the decline in the FSF’s influence, the article also has other suggestions. Perhaps most importantly, the FSF is a tiny company without the resources to achieve its numerous goals like sponsoring the GNU Project, promoting social activism, and running campaigns against DRM and Windows.
 

Chelsea Kerwin, August 18, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

 

Superior Customer Service Promised through the Accenture Virtual Agent Amelia

August 17, 2016

The article titled Accenture Forms New Business Unit Around IPsoft’s Amelia AI Platform on ZDNet introduces Amelia as a virtual agent capable of providing services in industries such as banking, insurance, and travel. Amelia looks an awful lot like Ava from the film Ex Machina, wherein an AI robot manipulates a young programmer by appealing to his empathy. Similarly, Accenture’s Amelia is supposed to be far more expressive and empathetic than her kin in the female AI world such as Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. The article states,

“Accenture said it will develop a suite of go-to-market strategies and consulting services based off of the Amelia platform…the point is to appeal to executives who “are overwhelmed by the plethora of technologies and many products that are advertising AI or Cognitive capabilities”…For Accenture, the formation of the Amelia practice is the latest push by the company to establish a presence in the rapidly expanding AI market, which research firm IDC predicts will reach $9.2 billion by 2019.”

What’s that behind Amelia, you ask? Looks like a parade of consultants ready and willing to advise the hapless executives who are so overwhelmed by their options. The Amelia AI Platform is being positioned as a superior customer service agent who will usher in the era of digital employees.

Chelsea Kerwin, August 17, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

The Surprisingly Diverse Types of Cybercriminals Threatening Your Business

July 29, 2016

The article titled BAE Systems Unmasks Today’s Cybercriminals- Australia on BAE Systems digs into the research on the industrialization of cyber crime, which looks increasingly like other established and legal industries. While most cybercriminals are still spurred to action by financial gain, there are also those interested more in a long-term strategy of going after intellectual property and selling the data on the black market. The article states,

“Some cyber criminals are becoming even more professional, offering skills and services, such as “project management” to other criminal organisations. They are writing their own software that comes with service agreements and money-back guarantees if the code gets detected, with the promise of a replacement. This ‘industrialisation’ of cyber crime means it has never been more important for businesses to understand and protect themselves against the risks they face,” said Dr Rajiv Shah, regional general manager, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.”

The article pinpoints six profiles including career criminals but also internal employees, activists and, and what they call “The Getaway,” or underage criminals who won’t be sentenced like adults. Perhaps the most insidious of these is The Insider, who can be a disgruntled employee or a negligent employee with more access than is good for them or the company they work for.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, July 29, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Salesforce Blackout

July 27, 2016

Salesforce.com is a cloud computing company with the majority of its profits coming from customer relationship management and acquiring commercial social networking apps.  According to PC World, Salesforce recently had a blackout and the details were told in: “Salesforce Outage Continues In Some Parts Of The US.”  In early May, Salesforce was down for over twelve hours due to a file integrity issue in the NA14 database.

The outage occurred in the morning with limited services restored later in the evening. Salesforce divides its customers into instances.  The NA14 instance is located in North America as many of the customers who complained via Twitter are located in the US.

The exact details were:

“The database failure happened after “a successful site switch” of the NA14 instance “to resolve a service disruption that occurred between 00:47 to 02:39 UTC on May 10, 2016 due to a failure in the power distribution in the primary data center,” the company said.  Later on Tuesday, Salesforce continued to report that users were still unable to access the service. It said it did not believe “at this point” that it would be able to repair the file integrity issue. Instead, it had shifted its focus to recovering from a prior backup, which had not been affected by the file integrity issues.”

It is to be expected that power outages like this would happen and they will reoccur in the future.  Technology is only as reliable as the best circuit breaker and electricity flows.  This is why it is recommended to back up your files in more than one place.

 

Whitney Grace, July 27, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google DeepMind AI Project Makes Progress

July 25, 2016

For anyone following the development of artificial intelligence, I recommend checking out the article, “How Google Plans to Solve Artificial Intelligence” at MIT Technology Review. The article delves into Google’s DeepMind project, an object of renewed curiosity after its AlphaGo software bested the human world champion of the ancient game Go in March.

This Go victory is significant, because it marks progress beyond the strategy of calculating different moves’ possible outcomes; the game is too complex for that established approach (though such calculations did allow IBM’s DeepBlue to triumph over the world chess champion in 1997). The ability to master Go has some speaking of “intuition” over calculation. Just how do you give software an approximation of human intuition? Writer Tom Simonite tells us:

“Hassabis believes the reinforcement learning approach is the key to getting machine-learning software to do much more complex things than the tricks it performs for us today, such as transcribing our words, or understanding the content of photos. ‘We don’t think just observing is enough for intelligence, you also have to act,’ he says. ‘Ultimately that’s the only way you can really understand the world.’”

“DeepMind’s 3-D environment Labyrinth, built on an open-source clone of the first-person-shooter Quake, is designed to provide the next steps in proving that idea. The company has already used it to challenge agents with a game in which they must explore randomly generated mazes for 60 seconds, winning points for collecting apples or finding an exit…. Future challenges might require more complex planning—for example, learning that keys can be used to open doors. The company will also test software in other ways, and is considering taking on the video game Starcraft and even poker. But posing harder and harder challenges inside Labyrinth will be a major thread of research for some time, says Hassabis. “It should be good for the next couple of years,” he says.”

The article has a video of DeepMind’s virtual labyrinth you can check out, if you’re curious. (It looks very much like an old Windows screen saver some readers may recall.) Simonite tells us that AI firms across the industry are watching this project carefully. He also points to some ways DeepMind is already helping with real-world problems, like developing training software with the U.K.’s National Health Service to help medical personnel recognize commonly missed signs of kidney problems.

See the article for much more about Google’s hopes and plans for DeepMind. Simonite concludes by acknowledging the larger philosophical and ethical concerns around artificial intelligence. We’re told DeepMind has its own “internal ethics board of philosophers, lawyers, and businesspeople.” I think it is no exaggeration to say these folks, whom Google indicates it will name someday soon, could have great influence over the nature of our future technology. Let us hope Google chooses wisely.

 

 

Cynthia Murrell, July 25, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on July 26, 2016. Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.

Coveo Wins a Stevie. Congrats Coveo. What Is a Stevie?

July 21, 2016

The article titled Coveo Sweeps Early 2016 Awards Programs on Coveo promotes some of the many honors and recognitions that the Coveo company and its apps have earned. Among these is the Gold Stevie Award they earned for Sales and Customer Service through Coveo Reveal. The article details the competition for this prestigious yet unknown award,

“More than 2,100 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition, an increase of 11% over 2015. Finalists were determined by the average scores of 115 professionals worldwide, acting as preliminary judges. More than 60 members of several specialized judging committees determined the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging.”

Coveo Reveal is the first cloud-based, machine leaning search platform for the enterprise. Its main users are customer service professionals, who are able to gain a stronger understanding of areas that can be improved in the overall search process. No surprise that it is winning awards, but we are unfamiliar with this Stevie recognition. According to the American Stevie Awards website, the award has been around since 2002 is named Stevie as in Stephen after the Greek derivation: “crowned.”

 

Chelsea Kerwin, July 21, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.

 

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