May 25, 2016
In the 1990s, we were promised that virtual reality was a sure thing. While flying toaster screen savers and Pixar’s computer animation kept us distracted, virtual reality was forgotten until recent developments in the gaming industry, such as the semi-affordable Oculus Rift, made it available for the average person. Virtual reality has become so advanced that people are already saying it will change how we live.
Do not forget, however, that virtual reality is still fake. It is a reflection of the real world and no matter how high in definition the graphics are, it is not real. Uber Gizmo says that Google does not want to give its users a fake experience, rather “Google’s Focus Reportedly On AR, Not On VR”.
AR stands for augmented reality and Google has already experimented in the area. The Google Glass was an augmented reality headset, although it had a limited reach and appeal. The new Google Cardboard, however, is a VR platform that provides a cheaper alternative to expensive VR goggles. Google is heading into the augmented reality arena, because:
“Apparently the reason for going with augmented reality is because Google doesn’t think that the public will invest too much in virtual reality headsets, which in their current iteration are huge and chunky devices that can’t really be worn outside. This is versus augmented reality in which your phone could offer up such features, and not to mention the more svelte design of the Google Glass.”
Virtual reality is simply the predecessor to augmented reality, similar to how motion capture techniques are replacing some live action special effects. It is another example of how we are at the start of something new, but it will take time to catch on.
May 24, 2016
I saw a Quora post by Peter Norvig, one of Alphabet Google’s wizards. [You m ay have to log in to view the statement. Also, the Quora search result for you may require some fiddling. Hey, life in the fast search lane is exciting.]
Novig’s subject is search. I highlighted these statements from the most viewed writer in artificial intelligence:
“Modern” Google, as Sundar has set out the vision, is based not just on suggestions of relevant information, but on informing and assisting.
In short, Google will figure out what “you” really want. But what if I want to locate specific words and phrases? Well, too bad for me.
How about that precision and recall stuff? It seems Google has admitted the 80 percent ceiling for precision and recall. I circled:
With information retrieval, anything over 80% recall and precision is pretty good—not every suggestion has to be perfect, since the user can ignore the bad suggestions. With assistance, there is a much higher barrier.
Really? A glass ceiling which has been evident in the TREC results for what? A decade?
Does this suggest that when Google cannot solve a problem, it punts? What about that solving death thing?
Stephen E Arnold, May 24, 2016
May 24, 2016
The article on GlobeNewsWire titled Ex-Googler Startup DGraph Labs Raises US$1.1 Million in Seed Funding Round to Build Industry’s First Open Source, Native and Distributed Graph Database names Bain Capital Ventures and Blackbird Ventures as the main investors in the startup. Manish Jain, founder and CEO of DGraph, worked on Google’s Knowledge Graph Infrastructure for six years. He explains the technology,
“Graph data structures store objects and the relationships between them. In these data structures, the relationship is as important as the object. Graph databases are, therefore, designed to store the relationships as first class citizens… Accessing those connections is an efficient, constant-time operation that allows you to traverse millions of objects quickly. Many companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, LinkedIn and Dropbox use graph databases to power their smart search engines and newsfeeds.”
Among the many applications of graph databases, the internet of thing, behavior analysis, medical and DNA research, and AI are included. So what is DGraph going to do with their fresh funds? Jain wants to focus on forging a talented team of engineers and developing the company’s core technology. He notes in the article that this sort of work is hardly the typical obstacle faced by a startup, but rather the focus of major tech companies like Google or Facebook.
Chelsea Kerwin, May 24, 2016
May 23, 2016
I read “Google’s Go to Market Gap.” The write up points out that the Alphabet Google thing has a flaw. The disconnect between the vision and the reality was the theme of my monograph “Google: The Digital Gutenberg.” Alas, the report is out of print because the savvy publisher woke up one morning and realized that he was not savvy. Too bad.
The point I noted is:
…social networks and messaging services are not only closed but nearly impossible to compete with.
Google now finds itself on the outside looking in many promising markets. Amazon nuked Google’s on again, off again shopping service from the Google catalogs to today’s Google Shopping. Google is in the game of trying to shift from its PC based search and ad model by playing simultaneous games of:
- Me too. Example: Google’s “answer” to the Echo
- Buy, buy, buy. Examples: Google’s acquisitions which seem to fade or freeze like Blogger.com
- Innovate, innovate, innovate. Example: The new 20 percent time effort to build intrapreneurship
- Dilution. Example: Ads which have minimal relevance to a user’s query.
The write up states:
The problem is that as much as Google may be ahead, the company is also on the clock: every interaction with Siri, every signal sent to Facebook, every command answered by Alexa, is one that is not only not captured by Google but also one that is captured by its competitors. Yes, it is likely Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are all behind Google when it comes to machine learning and artificial intelligence — hugely so, in many cases — but it is not a fair fight. Google’s competitors, by virtue of owning the customer, need only be good enough, and they will get better. Google has a far higher bar to clear — it is asking users and in some cases their networks to not only change their behavior but willingly introduce more friction into their lives — and its technology will have to be special indeed to replicate the company’s original success as a business.
When I was in high school, most of the lads and lasses in George Carlin’s algorithmic love fest did not go to the prom. The Alphabet Google thing, as I have stated many times, is like my high school math club on steroids. Prom is coming? Take an algorithm to the party? Sure, but why not ask IBM Watson? No date yet I hear.
Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2016
May 22, 2016
If you are unsure of Google’s history with the folks who allege the Alphabet Google thing fiddles search results, you will want to read and save “Why Google’s Monopoly Abuse Case in Europe Will Run and Run.” The main point of the write up is that legal processes can drag. I came away from the write up with this thought, “Lawyers involved in the legal issues will have quite a bit of work.”
The challenge the regulators in Europe have is that Google has become the go to solution for many online activities. Like Facebook and Amazon, the behavior of online services seems to operate like a monopoly. Users like the predictability of having a familiar way to perform certain tasks.
As the management of Alphabet Google changes, the drift toward pervasive functions continues. Individuals may not be aware how incremental decisions impact other organizations.
The write up points out:
critics have argued that the corporate rejig and change of leadership potentially gives the search titan plausible deniability: if regulators conclude that Google has harmed competition, then Pichai could say this hadn’t happened on his watch.
Interesting. The problem in my opinion is that the Google has been rolling down the same highway for more than a decade. I am not sure when a rest stop or breakdown will occur. How have Qwant and Quaero fared?
Stephen E Arnold, May 21, 2016
May 19, 2016
I read “Sorry Google, We Just Don’t Want to Be Friends with You.” What struck me is that Facebook, which is not the focal point of the write up, is one beneficiary of this write up. The centerpiece of the article is a series of comments about Google’s social media belly flops: Wave, Buzz, Google +. The article omitted the wonderful Orkut service, which was embraced by certain users in Brazil.
Google is not the sole company to be dumped in a bourbon barrel filled with sour mash. Apple and even a nod to Facebook’s slops make the focus on Google less eye watering.
But the winner is Facebook. The Telegraph states:
Facebook has neutralized threats such as Instagram and WhatsApp by buying them before they really surface.
Okay, Facebook is the big dog. The write up makes one last snap at the GOOG:
Perhaps it should just accept that we don’t want to be friends with Google.
I am not sure I want to be friends with the Telegraph.
Stephen E Arnold, May 19, 2016
May 18, 2016
The article on Elle titled Google SA Launches the Mzansi Experience On Maps illustrates the new Google Street View collection for South Africa. For people without the ability to travel, or scared of malaria or Oscar Pistorius, this collection offers an in-depth platform to view some of South Africa’s natural wonders and parks. The article explains,
“Using images collected by the Street View Tripod and Trekker, Google has created 360-degree imagery of some of South Africa’s most beautiful locations, and created virtual tours that enable visitors to see the sights for themselves on their phones, tablets or computers. Visitors will be able to, for the first time, visit a family of elephants in the Kruger National Park, take a virtual walk on Table Mountain, admire Cape Point, or take a walk along Durban’s Golden Mile.”
For South Africa, this initiative might spark increased tourism once people realize just how much the country has to offer. So many of the images of Africa that we are exposed to in the US are reductive and patronizing, like those ceaseless commercials depicting all of Africa as a small, poverty-stricken village. Google’s new collection helps to promote a more diverse and appealing look at one African country: South Africa. Whether you want to go in person or virtually, this is worth checking out!
Chelsea Kerwin, May 18, 2016
May 18, 2016
A recent report from SimilarWeb tells us what sorts of people turn to Internet search engine DuckDuckGo, which protects users’ privacy, over a more prominent engine, Microsoft’s Bing. The Search Engine Journal summarizes the results in, “New Research Reveals Who is Using DuckDuckGo and Why.”
The study drew its conclusions by looking at the top five destinations of DuckDuckGo users: Whitehatsec.com, Github.com, NYtimes.com, 4chan.org, and YCombinator.com. Note that four of these five sites have pretty specific audiences, and compare them to the top five, more widely used, sites accessed through Bing: MSN.com, Amazon.com, Reddit.com, Google.com, and Baidu.com.
Writer Matt Southern observes:
“DuckDuckGo users also like to engage with their search engine of choice for longer periods of time — averaging 9.38 minutes spent on DuckDuckGo vs. Bing.
“Despite its growth over the past year, DuckDuckGo faces a considerable challenge when it comes to getting found by new users. Data shows the people using DuckDuckGo are those who already know about the search engine, with 93% of its traffic coming from direct visits. Only 1.5% of its traffic comes from organic search.
“Roy Hinkis of SimilarWeb concludes by saying the loyal users of DuckDuckGo are those who love tech, and they use they use DuckDuckGo as an alternative because they’re concerned about having their privacy protected while they search online.”
Though Southern agrees DuckDuckGo needs to do some targeted marketing, he notes traffic to the site has been rising by 22% per year. It is telling that the privacy-protecting engine is most popular among those who understand the technology.
Cynthia Murrell, May 18, 2016
May 17, 2016
The article on STAT titled Google’s Bold Bid to Transform Medicine Hits Turbulence Under a Divisive CEO explores Google management methods for one of its “moonshot” projects. Namely, the massive company has directed its considerable resources toward overhauling medicine. Verily Life Sciences is the three year-old startup with a mysterious mission and a controversial leader in Andrew Conrad. So far, roughly a dozen Verily players have abandoned the project.
“But “if they are getting off the roller coaster before it gets to the first dip,” something looks seriously wrong, said Rob Enderle, a technology analyst who has tracked Google since its inception. Those who depart well-financed startups usually forsake potential financial windfalls down the line, which further suggests that the people leaving Verily “are losing confidence in the leadership,” he said. No similar brain drain has occurred at Calico, another ambitious Google spinoff, which is focused on increasing the human lifespan.”
Given the scope of the Verily project, which Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, announced that he hoped would significantly change the way we identify, avoid, and handle illness, perhaps Conrad is cracking under the stress. He has maintained complete radio silence and rumors abound that his employees operate under threat of termination for speaking to a reporter.
Chelsea Kerwin, May 17, 2016
May 16, 2016
Google is innovating again. Perhaps the company will boost its revenues with a new line of T shirts. An outfit like Tauck Tours might pay to show the well heeled traveler real data center art?
My thought is to reduce overhead and concentrate on products and services which generate meaningful revenue. Will other cloud centric outfits spring for wraps or pimping their industrial facilities?
Stephen E Arnold, May 16, 2016