Googles Data Police Fail with Creepy Videos

December 13, 2017

YouTube is suffering from a really strange problem lately. In various children’s programming feeds, inappropriate knockoff videos of popular cartoon characters keep appearing. It has parents outraged, as we learned in a Fast Company article, “Creepy Kids Videos Like These Keep Popping Up on YouTube.”

The videos feature things like Elle from “Frozen” firing machine guns. According to the story:

A YouTube policy imposed this year says that videos showing “family entertainment characters” being “engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior” can’t be monetized with ads on the platform. But on Monday evening Fast Company found at least one violent, unlicensed superhero video, entitled “Learn Colors With Superheroes Finger Family Song Johny Johny Yes Papa Nursery Rhymes Giant Syringe,” still included ads. A YouTube spokesperson didn’t immediately comment, but by Tuesday the video’s ads had been removed.

The videos may well draw ire from legislators, as Congress takes an increasingly close look at user-generated content online in the wake of Russian election manipulation.

It feels like they really need to have a tighter rein on content. But it would surprise us if this Congress would impose too much on YouTube’s parent company, Google. With Net Neutrality likely being erased by Congress, the idea of any deeper oversight is unlikely. If anything, we think Google will be given less oversight.

Patrick Roland, December 13, 2017

Watson Works with AMA, Cerner to Create Health Data Model

December 1, 2017

We see IBM Watson is doing the partner thing again, this time with the American Medical Association (AMA). I guess they were not satisfied with blockchain applications and the i2 line of business after all. Forbes reports, “AMA Partners With IBM Watson, Cerner on Health Data Model.” Contributor Bruce Japsen cites James Madera of the AMA when he reports that though the organization has been collecting a lot of valuable clinical data, it has not yet been able to make the most of it. Of the new project, we learn:

The AMA’s ‘Integrated Health Model Initiative’ is designed to create a ‘shared framework for organizing health data , emphasizing patient-centric information and refining data elements to those most predictive of achieving better outcomes.’ Those already involved in the effort include IBM, Cerner, Intermountain Healthcare, the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Informatics Association. The initiative is open to all healthcare and information stakeholders and there are no licensing fees for participants or potential users of what is eventually created. Madara described the AMA’s role as being like that of Switzerland: working to tell companies like Cerner and IBM what data elements are important and encouraging best practices, particularly when patient care and clinical information is involved. The AMA, for example, would provide ‘clinical validation review to make sure there is an evidence base under it because we don’t want junk,’ Madara said.

IBM and Cerner each have their own healthcare platforms, of course, but each is happy to work with the AMA. Japsen notes that as the healthcare industry shifts from the fee-for-service approach to value-based pricing models, accurate and complete information become more crucial than ever.

Cynthia Murrell, December 1, 2017

Experts Desperately Seeking the Secret to Big Data Security

November 28, 2017

As machine learning and AI becomes a more prevalent factor in our day-to-day life, the daily risk of a security breach threatens. This is a major concern for AI experts and you should be concerned too. We learned how scary the fight feels from a recent Tech Target article, “Machine Learning’s Training is Security Vulnerable.”

According to the story:

To tune machine learning algorithms, developers often turn to the internet for training data — it is, after all, a virtual treasure trove of the stuff. Open APIs from Twitter and Reddit, for example, are popular training data resources. Developers scrub them of problematic content and language, but the data-cleansing techniques are no match for the methods used by adversarial actors…

What could solve that risk? Some experts have been proposing a very interesting solution: a global security framework. While this seems like a great way to roadblock hackers, it may also pose a threat. As the Tech Target piece states, hacking technology usually moves at the same speed as a normal tech. So, a global security framework would look like a mighty tempting prize for hackers looking to cause global chaos. Proceed with caution!

Patrick Roland, November 28, 2017

Nothing New as UK Continues to Spy on Citizens

November 27, 2017

People in the United States appear to always be up in arms about their civil liberties.  While it can be annoying, this is a good thing because it shows that citizens are trying to keep their government in check. The United States pales in comparison to the United Kingdom when it comes to defying civil liberties and spying on citizens.  TechCrunch shares the article, “UK Spies Using Social Media Data For Das Surveillance.”

Why does it come as a surprise that governments are using social media to collect information on their citizens? Many social media users do not have filters, including the US President Trump, and post everything online.  Governments take advantage of this, so it only makes sense when Privacy International says they have evidence that UK spy agencies use social media to gather information on suspects.

What does come as interesting is that the evidence shows that UK agencies shared their information databases with foreign governments and law enforcement?  On the other hand, given that the UK has been a target for terrorist attacks, this makes sense. Privacy International is challenging UK’s intelligence use of the of the personal data as an investigation tool.  This is the biggest concern and rightly so:

A key concern of the committee at the time was that rules governing use of the datasets had not been defined in legislation (although the UK government has since passed a new investigatory powers framework that enshrines various state surveillance bulk powers in law).  But at the time of the report, privacy issues and other safeguards pertaining to BPDs had not been considered in public or parliament.

There are not any legal ramifications if the data is misused.  This is a big deal and there need to be penalties if the data is used in harmful ways.  It begs the question, however, what about financial and retail industries that collect data on customers to sell more products?  Is that akin to this?  Also, people need to put less of their lives online and they would have less to worry about.

Whitney Grace, November 27, 2017

Analytics Tips on a Budget

November 23, 2017

Self-service analytics is another way to say “analytics on a budget.”  Many organizations, especially non-profits, do not have the funds to invest in a big data plan and technology, so they decide to take the task on themselves.  With the right person behind the project, self-service analytics is a great way to save a few bucks.  IT Pro Portal shares some ways how to improve on an analytics project in, “Three Rules For Adopting Self-Service Analytics.”  Another benefit to self-service analytics is that theoretically anyone in the organization can make use of the data and find some creative outlet for it.  The tips come with the warning label:

Any adoption of new technology requires a careful planning, consultation, and setup process to be successful: it must be comprehensive without being too time-consuming, and designed to meet the specific goals of your business end-users. Accordingly, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach: each business will need to consider its specific technological, operational and commercial requirements before they begin.

What are the three tips?

  1. Define your business requirements
  2. Collaborate and integrate
  3. Create and implement a data governance policy

All I can say to this is, duh!  These are standard tips that can be applied, not only for self-service analytics but also BI plans and any IT plan.  Maybe there are a few tips directly geared at the analytics field but stick to fewer listicles and more practical handbooks.  Was this a refined form of clickbait?

Whitney Grace, November 23, 2017

Think Facebook Is Going to Fix Its Data Issues, Think Again

November 23, 2017

Facebook has been in hot water lately with its massive flubs with fake news. But the water is about to get scalding when you look at how fast and lose it plays with data. We learned some shocking things from a Fast Company story, “This Time, Facebook is Sharing Its Employees’ Data.”

According to the story:

Still, through a little-known arrangement, Facebook Inc. routinely shares the sensitive income and employment data of its U.S.-based employees with the Work Number database, owned by Equifax Workforce Solutions. Yes, that Equifax.

 

Every week, Facebook provides an electronic data feed of its employees’ hourly work and wage information to Equifax Workforce Solutions, formerly known as TALX, a St. Louis-based unit of Equifax, Inc. The Work Number database is managed separately from the Equifax credit bureau database that suffered a breach exposing the data of more than 143 million Americans, but it contains another cache of extensive personal information about Facebook’s employees, including their date of birth, social security number, job title, salary, pay raises or decreases, tenure, number of hours worked per week, wages by pay period, healthcare insurance coverage, dental care insurance coverage, and unemployment claim records.

This is pretty groundbreaking news. If the social media king can’t even keep its own employee data safe from the Equifaxes and hackers of the world, how safe are we supposed to think they keep our own data? For Facebook to earn back customer trust, it’ll have to jump through some pretty serious hoops. We’ll sit back and wait for the circus to arrive, in that case.

Patrick Roland, November 23, 2017

Solve BI Woes with This Listicle

November 20, 2017

Business intelligence is a key component in any business that wants to be competitive, turn a profit, and make themselves a known entity.  The problem, however, is betting your business intelligence plan off the ground.  CIO shares the top, “Three Reasons Your Business Intelligence Adoption Has Stalled.”  Old-fashioned BI plans relied heavily on putting technology at the forefront and having a dedicated staff to manage it.  The traditional model has changed because everyone in an organization can have access to the same type of technology that once was specialized.

The problem with implementing a BI plan is more than likely than the company culture.  The first problem is that employees (and everyone) are resistant to change.  Forcing employees to use new technology not only creates conflict, but there is also the problem with data literacy.  It usually takes a lot of training sessions to get everyone’s skills on par.

Another problem is that some companies rely too heavily on their gut instinct that confirmed data:

BI leaders spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to convince instinct-based decision-makers that analytic insight beats intuition. Unfortunately, this rarely changes deep-rooted beliefs and has little-to-no impact on the use of BI. Consequently, BI teams are better served engaging leaders who understand the value of analytics and are willing and able to influence business process change. Top-down support from organizational leaders to challenge the status quo, and push for business process transformation, is mandatory for success. It will quickly become evident to senior leaders which of their key decision-makers are furthering – or hindering – the organization’s BI and analytic adoption goals.

The third problem is that organizations implement a BI plan, usually around an IT project, and once it is rolled out and on the go, nothing else is done with it.  Companies think that once a BI plan is in place, then it will not need to evolve in the future.  A fluid mentality, rather than a check-box one is how organizations will have successful BI deployments.

Whitney Grace, November 20, 2017

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

Silobreaker Digs Deeper into Dark Web

November 9, 2017

The Dark Web is small, unmonitored part of the Internet.  While the Dark Web seems untraceable and unsearchable, many tech companies are making strides documenting it.  Silobreaker is one of the companies and they announced a partnership with Flashpoint to take on the Dark Web: “Silobreaker Expands Its Data Coverage To Deep And Dark Web By Teaming Up With Flashpoint.”  Flashpoint is a leading provider of business risk intelligence technology and they focus on uncovering Dark Web information.

Flashpoint recently released version four of their business risk intelligence API.  Along with the newest release, Silobreaker and Flashpoints’ team up means that more of their clients will be able to predict, detect, and resolve unstructured data into actionable intelligence.

How will Silobreaker and Flashpoint work together?

Flashpoint’s data is being ingested by Silobreaker’s platform, where it is indexed and fully integrated for use across all analytical tools, visualizations and workflow features. When correlated with Silobreaker’s open source data, this combination empowers customers to move seamlessly between the two data-sets in a single application, expanding their analyses to include both.

The only downside is in order to take advantage of the team up, their clients must have licenses to both companies.  Maybe they will offer a bundle deal if you ask nicely.

Whitney Grace, November 9, 2017

 

More .NET Spying Issues

November 7, 2017

George Orwell, like many science fiction authors, imagined dystopian futures, but also the possibility of grander technology.  In his quintessential novel 1984, Orwell discussed the consequences of a society controlled by completely by the government and how an advanced spy network allowed the entity to do so.  While Orwell imagined this future, he probably could not conceive of how the technology would actually work.

Today we do and many consumers are victims of spying.

Technology companies state that the spying is unintentional, but do we really believe that?  Gitbhub had a post titled, “.NET Core Should Not Spy On Users By Default”  The .NET Core is a set of tools Microsoft developed and Microsoft has a history of spying on their users.  Remember how Windows 10 spied on users?  A Microsoft representative posted that the default spying protocol is actually a good thing, because

The data we collect does not identify individual users. We’re only interested in aggregate data that we can use to identify trends. The telemetry feature is configurable, so you can turn it on/off at any time. It is also scoped, only applying to tools usage, not the rest of the product. We think that this is a good trade-off and recognize that not everyone will like it. We do know, however, that many people will like the product improvements that will come from this insight.

Spying is spying, whether the data cannot be identified.  Also everything digital leaves a footprint somehow, so the representative is more than likely misspeaking (using double think?).  The spying option should never be a default unless an advisory is given to users and they allow it.  At least, Apple does it with all of their users.

Whitney Grace, November 7, 2017

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