Mayflower Autonomous Ship Gets a Mate Named Watson

September 24, 2020

Christopher Columbus had to make do with mere humans when he sailed the oceans blue. The Mayflower Autonomous Ship or MAS has IBM Watson on board. The MAS is a maritime autonomous drone. Drones are subject to command and control hacking. Will the MAS be the target of this type of attack with bad actors running the ship into vacationers sailing into Zephyr Sailing’s Pandora at six knots? DarkCyber sincerely hopes that IBM Watson can operate at Jeopardy game show performance levels. We learned from “Mayflower Autonomous Ship Launches”:

MAS features an AI Captain built by ProMare and IBM developers which gives MAS the ability to sense, think and make decisions at sea with no human captain or onboard crew. The new class of marine AI is underpinned by IBM’s latest advanced edge computing systems, automation software, computer vision technology and Red Hat Open Source software.

The MAS operates with no human interventions. The ship includes more than 30 sensors and has a maximum speed of 10 knots. The software includes “IBM Visual Insights computer vision technology, IBM edge systems, IBM Operational Decision Manager automation software, IBM Maximo asset management software, and data from The Weather Company.”

Will the MAS be hacked by bad actors? Will the Level 5 drone operate without creating excitement for those in fishing boards, kayaks, and rentals like the Pandora? Watson, what say you? Also, how did that dog matching gig in Mexico work out? And what’s the next PR play from Big Blue?

Stephen E Arnold, September 24, 2020

IBM, Canned Noise, but No Moan from the Injured Line Judge: IBM Watson, What Is Happening?

September 10, 2020

As it has done since 2015, IBM has shared details about the AI tech it is using to support the US Open tennis championship. This year’s tournament, though, is different from most due to the pandemic. VentureBeat reports, “IBM Will Use AI to Pipe in Simulated Crowd Noise During the U.S. Open.” We think IBM is making the project more complicated than necessary. A sound bed can be accomplished with sound snips on a laptop. Need sound, click a link. IBM’s solution? Bring an F 35, its support team, and a truck filled with spares. Writer Kyle Wiggers reports:

“The first [addition] is AI Sounds, which aims to recreate the ambient noise normally emanating from the stadium. IBM says it leveraged its AI Highlights platform to digest video from last year’s U.S. Open and rank the ‘excitement level’ of various clips, which it compiled into a reel and classified to give each a crowd reaction score. IBM used hundreds of hours of footage to extract crowd sounds, which it plans to make available to ESPN production teams that will serve it dynamically based on play. How natural these AI-generated sounds will be remains a question. Some fans have taken issue with the artificiality of noises produced by platforms like Electronic Arts’ Sounds of the Stands, which simulates crowd sounds using technology borrowed from the publishers’ FIFA game series. The NBA has reportedly considered mixing in audio from NBA 2K during its broadcasts, and the NFL is expected to use artificial fan noise for its live games this year if they’re played in empty stadiums.”

Whether fake crowd noise sounds authentic, do viewers really want to pretend there is a live crowd when there is not? Perhaps; the pandemic is affecting people in strange ways. There has even been a call to bring back canned laughter while it is too risky to gather live studio audiences for sit coms.

The other technology IBM hopes will garner attention at the Open is Watson Discovery, which we’re told will facilitate tennis debates between online viewers by feeding them questions and researching the validity of resulting arguments. The same platform will supply factoids about upcoming matches through the smartphone app. It seems Watson is auditioning for the job of sport commentator.

Ouch! Was that Watson or the line judge? Watson? Watson?

Cynthia Murrell, September 10, 2020

IBM: A New PR Direction without Recipes and TV Game Shows?

August 18, 2020

IBM appears to be shifting its marketing in an interesting way. IBM announced its Power10 chips. Representative of the coverage is Forbes’ Magazine’s “IBM POWER10 Mega Chip For Hybrid Cloud Is Revealed.” The write up is not written by Forbes’ staff. The article is from an outfit called Tirias Research, a member of a contributor group. I am not sure what a contributor group is. The article seems like marketing speak to me, but you judge for yourself. Here’s a snippet:

To handle the ever more complex cloud workloads, the POWER10 improves capacity (socket throughput) and efficiency by about 3x over the POWER9. The energy efficiency gains were critical because IBM increased CPU core count over the POWER9 but kept the socket power roughly the same. All in all, the POWER10 big step forward for the architecture.

Next, I noticed write ups about IBM’s mainframe business. Navigate to “COBOL Still Handles 70% of Global Business Transactions.” The content strikes me as a recycling of IBM-prepared visuals. Here’s an example of the “analysis” and “news” in the article about the next big future:


Several observations:

  1. It was not that long ago that IBM was touting IBM Watson as capable of matching pets with potential owners. Now IBM is focusing on semiconductors and “workhorse” mainframes
  2. There are chips using technology more advanced than IBM’s 7 and 14 nanometer chips. Like Intel, IBM makes no reference to manufacturing techniques which may offer more advantages. That’s understandable. But three nanometer fabs are approaching, and IBM appears to be following, not leading.
  3. The cheerleading for hybrid clouds is different from cheerleading for “the cloud.” Has IBM decided that its future pivots on getting companies to build data centers and hire IBM to maintain them.

The craziness of the state unemployment agencies with COBOL based systems is fresh in my mind. For me, emphasizing the dependence of organizations upon COBOL is interesting. This statement caught my attention:

COBOL still handle [sic] more than 70% of the business transactions that take place in the world today.

Is this a good thing? Are Amazon, Microsoft, and Google embracing mainframes? My hunch is that companies are unable to shift from legacy systems. Inertia, not innovation, may be creating what some people seeking unemployment benefits from COBOL-centric systems perceive as a dysfunctional approach.

Net net: At least IBM is not talking about recipes created by Watson.

Stephen E Arnold, August 18, 2020

Google Channels IBM: Batter Up, Not Tennis, Anyone?

July 23, 2020

The me too approach to innovation is amusing. IBM applied its marketing genius and the possibly less sparkling Watson to tennis. Now the Google has embraced baseball. “Major League Baseball Scores a Home Run with Google Cloud to Improve Fan Experience” reports that:

The oldest major professional sports league in the US, Major League Baseball, is making better use of data with Google Cloud to personalize the fan experience.

How is that fan experience right now, sports fan? Oh, right. There are limited fan experiences. Baseball lovers can watch some games from exotic countries excluded from the US World Series. That’s a filler like the extra ingredients in hot dogs at some minor league teams’ baseball parks.

There’s another foul ball. The big leaguers will use iPads, not Chromebooks in the dugout. What’s up with that, ump?

But the interesting part of the write up is not about baseball. Here’s the passage which snagged my attention:

MLB also has a project underway called Fast Ball, which Gaedtke [baseball big wig] describes as a fundamentally new approach to video for the game of baseball and its fans.

Again, without real life games, a “new approach” may be necessary.

And there’s more:

MLB is also analyzing fan touch points using Google Cloud across all of its operations to help understand how it can better serve fans.

Isn’t a touch point, “take me out to the ball game”?

The Google Cloud is there to create the “new approach” which seems quite similar to the IBM approach: Marketing fault? Looks more like two strikes and no balls.

Stephen E Arnold, July 23, 2020

IBM Donates Projects to the Cause of Responsible AI

July 3, 2020

The first question arising was, “Was the marketing of Watson responsible?” But why rain on a virtue signaling parade? It is almost the 4th of July in IBM land?

The LF AI Foundation was formed to support open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning. Now IBM has climbed on board, we learn from “IBM Donates ‘Trusted AI’ Projects to Linux Foundation AI” at ZDNet. In a blog post, the company promises these donations will help ensure AI deployments are fair, secure, and trustworthy. They will also facilitate the creation of such software by the open source community under the direction of the Linux Foundation. Journalist Stephanie Codon writes:

“Specifically, IBM is contributing the AI Fairness 360 Toolkit, the Adversarial Robustness 360 Toolbox and the AI Explainability 360 Toolkit. The AI Fairness 360 Toolkit allows developers and data scientists to detect and mitigate unwanted bias in machine learning models and datasets. Along with other resources, it provides around 70 metrics to test for biases and 11 algorithms to mitigate bias in datasets and models. The Adversarial Robustness 360 Toolbox is an open-source library that helps researchers and developers defend deep neural networks from adversarial attacks. Meanwhile, the AI Explainability 360 Toolkit provides a set of algorithms, code, guides, tutorials, and demos to support the interpretability and explainability of machine learning models. The LFAI’s Technical Advisory Committee voted earlier this month to host and incubate the project, and IBM is currently working with them to formally move them under the foundation. IBM joined the LFAI last year and helped established its Trusted AI Committee, which is working towards defining and implementing principles of trust in AI deployments.”

Plus a foundation can deal with any political or legal issues, perhaps? The article notes that governments are taking a serious interest in AI governance. The EU released a white paper on the topic in February, and 14 countries and the EU are teaming up in the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI). It is about time governing bodies woke up to the effects unchecked AI can have on our communities. Now about the Watson Covid, the avocado festival, and the game show?

Cynthia Murrell, July 3, 2020

IBM: From the Avocado Festival to Insights about WFH. Sheer Genius!

June 23, 2020

I read “IBM Advises Tighter Cybersecurity in a New Remote Work Era.” Now this is a brilliant insight from the maker of mainframes, terminator of old engineers, and inventor of the outstanding Watson thing.

The write up states:

IBM Indonesia, a wholly owned subsidiary of American technology giant IBM, has called for companies to step up cybersecurity measures and to communicate digital safety to employees in light of the increase in cyber attacks during the “remote working era” of the pandemic. IBM Security, the multinational’s global cybersecurity division, reported an increase of more than 6,000 percent in coronavirus-related spam, including virus-themed malware, malicious domains and phishing scams in March-May.

I would count the number of marketing emails I have received from cyber security companies reporting about work from home security threats. The problem is that these started arriving in February 2020 and have continued to the present. I can reliably count to about 10,000 using the fingers and toes of my research team, an IBM matched dog or two, and most of the people who live in Prospect, Kentucky.

IBM is pushing into a frontier once reserved for desperate search engine optimization marketing firms. What’s impressive about this IBM announcement is that IBM think has been transferred to IBM Indonesia wizards.

Who said company culture could not be imprinted on individuals with a good education, a nuclear family background, and the ability to think independently?

Maybe Mr. Watson, the founder, not the truly astounding billion dollar baby who won a TV show game content when just a bean sprout.

One has to admire Big Blue. The avocado thing was slightly original. The dog matching. Classic Watson. This revelation about security. Well, just a player who arrives late to a party and reads the discarded invitations, “Dear Captain Obvious, the pleasure of your company is…”

Stephen E Arnold, June 23, 2020

IBM: No Facial Recognition? Why? Just Ask Watson

June 19, 2020

Racial tensions are at an all time high due to the recent unnecessary deaths of many black people at the hands of law enforcement. People of all think backgrounds are calling for an elimination of technology that amplifies racial profiling tactics, particularly facial recognition technology. IBM, along with other technology companies, want to support diversity and anti-violent police acts, so Live Mint shares how: “IBM Gets Out Of Facial Recognition Business, Oppose Use For Mass Surveillance.”

CEO of IBM Arvind Krishna stated that her company would no longer sell facial recognition or analysis software for racial profiling and mass surveillance. Mass surveillance is another major fear that people hold when it coms to facial technology. The potential for a huge spy network is possible and if government backs the bill it becomes scarier than Orwell’s imagination.

Facial recognition also perpetuates racial profiling, because the data used to train the AI is usually biased. Most of the data only contains information related to white individuals, because they are the ones designing the technology making their data more readily available. Due to the lack of diverse facial data, current facial recognition technology is prone to more errors with ethnic minorities.

Krishna is right to not offer the technology, especially when it could do more harm than good:

“ ‘IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,’he was quoted as saying in the letter.”

Facial recognition is off the radars for most law enforcement agencies right now, but that does not mean the technology should not be developed. The biggest solution to ensure accuracy is acquiring more diverse data.

One of my DarkCyber colleagues said at Shake Shack a day ago, “Maybe the IBM facial recognition technology does not work, and this was an easy way to get out of sticky ditch.”

Maybe? Watson, what do you think?

Whitney Grace, June 19, 2020

After Dog Matching, Watson Pivots to Technology Ops

June 13, 2020

Can an older dog learn new tricks after a visit to a Mexican avocado festival?

It has been a while since Watson debuted, so it is not surprising the AI supercomputer would need to be retrained in IT. It has a held a variety of other jobs from chef to medical professional, so going back to its roots will do wonders for Watson’s career. ARN explains that, “IBM Retains Watson AI For IT Operations?”

Watson’s retraining comes from IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna, who wants to use the AI supercomputer to become a tool diagnosing and solving enterprise IT problems. Krishna particularly wants to focus on the new AIOps market that applies AI to IT operations. He also wants to focus on cloud edge computing and the growing importance of the 5G mobile infrastructure. The new Watson AIOps will:

“Watson AIOps, IBM’s name for the new iteration of Watson, is built on the latest release of Red Hat OpenShift, a container orchestration platform, so it can run across hybrid cloud environments.

It’s designed to evaluate the swarms of alerts generated by IT monitoring tools when an incident occurs, in order to identify and help fix the root cause of the problem…

IBM already has an AI-based IT operations management tool, Netcool Operations Insight, that automatically groups related events and provides context to help solve problems.”

IBM is not the only AIOps developer in the market, but despite the hefty competition Krishna believes Watson and his company offer tools they cannot find anywhere else.

With 5G and cloud edge computing, IBM could have a one up on a market still in development.

Whitney Grace, June 13, 2020

IBM Watson: To the Dogs?

June 11, 2020

Okay, a pandemic, a financial meltdown, increasing border tensions between China and India, protests in the US, and dog matching.

Wait! Dog matching.

DarkCyber noted a write up which struck the research team as weirdly out of tune in an already discordant symphony.

270B Partnered With Avocados From Mexico to Create an Innovative Digital Campaign for the 2019 Big Game, Winning a Prestigious Reggie Award for Digital Innovation” includes this factoid which would be humorous if it were not for the litany of crises which humanity faces:

One of the main draws of the site was the integration of IBM Watson technology into the Match Dog Com experience. This technology analyzed the user’s personality via their Tweets and then paired them with real adoptable dogs with complementary personality traits by breed. In the short length of the campaign, it generated 3.2 Billion social impressions. By partnering with national dog adoption organization,, the integration of information from their system provided information on real dogs that were ready to adopt.

IBM. Watson. Dog adoption. Amazing. By the way, what was the outcome of IBM Watson’s health care and Covid contribution? Right. A list. But dog matching? No problem. Again: Amazing.

Stephen E Arnold, June 11, 2020

Is AI Really Working?

June 10, 2020

I am tempted to point out that Microsoft’s artificially intelligent editorial system made an error. Confusing mixed race singers and doing some fancy dance steps behind the scenes reminds me that the company cannot update Windows 10 reliably.

But the more interesting AI (smart software) story is IBM’s announcement to the US Congress no less that it is not in the facial recognition business. Adios has arrived. “IBM Is Canceling Its Facial Recognition Programs” reports:

In a letter to Congress on Monday (June 9, 2020), IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the company wants to work with lawmakers to advance justice and racial equity through police reform, educational opportunities and the responsible use of technology.

What the write up and similar ones did not mention is that IBM is the proud owner of IBM Watson. The question is, “Why is Watson, the billion dollar poster child of smart software, not able to deliver facial recognition that passes muster?”

There’s the virtue signaling value, of course. But the reliability of Watson and other IBM “smart” technology has to be viewed as apparently falling short of the corn hole target?

The reference to bias is a convenient way to get around accuracy issues, training costs, and inability of Watson-infused IBM solutions to deliver a nicely grilled burger when serving up fresh-from-the-can Spam.

Please, recall that IBM Watson wrote a cookbook. No, there wasn’t a recipe for “spam” in the tome. But there was tamarind which seems to beg for baloney.

Stephen E Arnold, June 10, 2020

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