Quote to Note: The Role of US AI Innovators

March 24, 2017

I read “Opening a New Chapter of My Work in AI.” After working through the non-AI output, I concluded that money beckons the fearless leader, Andrew Ng. However, I did note one interesting quotation in the apologia:

The U.S. is very good at inventing new technology ideas. China is very good at inventing and quickly shipping AI products.

What this suggests to me is that the wizard of AI sees the US as good at “ideas”, and China an implementer. A quick implementer at that.

My take is that China sucks up intangibles like information and ideas. Then China cranks out products. Easy to monetize things, avoiding the question, “What’s the value of that idea, pal?”

Ouch. On the other hand, software is the new electricity. So who is Thomas Edison? I wish I “knew”.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2017

Innovation: Dots and Boundary Crossing

February 18, 2017

I stumbled across a tweet with this graphic in it:


Perhaps a drawing by Sandy Carter.

Another tweeter person posted the graphic with these changes:


Perhaps a modification by Mike the Fish.

Without being a pedant, I would point out that the chestnut of connecting dots operates in a slightly more complex environment. This illustration is not perfect, but it is closer to the real world:

Related image

A tip of the hat to Ring Realms.

Stephen E Arnold, February 18, 2017

Artificial Intelligence: Is More Better? China Thinks So

October 26, 2016

I read “China Overtakes US in Quantity of AI Research.” The idea seems to be that more is better. We know that China has more table tennis players than most countries. China wins more tournaments than most countries. Therefore, more is better. Does the same spinny logic apply to artificial intelligence or smart software?

The write up states:

The Obama administration has a new strategic plan aimed at spurring US development of artificial intelligence. What’s striking is that while the US was an early leader on deep learning research, China has effectively eclipsed it in terms of the number of papers published annually on the subject. The rate of increase is remarkably steep, reflecting how China’s research priorities have changed. The quality of China’s research is also striking.

As  HonkinNews pointed out on October 18, 2016, the White House plan calls for standards. Companies are, however, moving forward and unlikely to be slowed down by a standards setting process. Researchers outside the United States will pay attention to standards, but in the meantime, China and other nation states are pressing forward. As HonkinNews pointed out, the White House end of term paper about artificial intelligence was handed in late.

The article cited above says:

The American government is pushing for a major role for itself in AI research, because becoming a leader in artificial intelligence R&D puts the US in a better position to establish global norms on how AI should be safely used.

Nice idea for a discipline which has been chugging along for a half century.

Stephen E Arnold, October 26, 2016

Improvements in News and Military Technology Coming

September 23, 2016

I read two stories. These stories seem unrelated. The first is “Defense Department Reaffirms Its Commitment to Venture Investing.” The second is “Facebook and Twitter Join Coalition to Improve Social Media Newsgathering.”

Let’s look at the short item about the US Department of Defense reaffirming its interest in funding new technology. In my forthcoming, Dark Web Notebook, I point to a Web page which contains a run down of more than 100 open source software components. The software does information collection and processing functions. But the main point is that the organizations creating the code is one of the more interesting lists of entities performing next generation innovation for the Department of Defense. The write up cited above states:

Not everyone is comfortable with a government entity backing what can be sensitive technologies (not to mention the privacy issues wrought by the NSA’s practices and deployment of new tech tools).

My view is that In-Q-Tel is a more visible entity than some of the Department of Defense activities. DoD, in fact, has been in the innovation far longer than In-Q-Tel. One might suggest that substantive innovation emerges from the DoD programs; for example, the DoD is the progenitor of the Internet. My view is that more disruption may be evident in what the DoD is funding than in what the In-Q-Tel organization is funding. The write up misses an important point in my opinion. DoD looks out the windshield of innovation and In-Q-Tel looks at the world via a rear view mirror. Case in point: funding open source software related to Dark Web actions. In-Q-Tel funding companies which often have been in existence for years prior to receiving an infusion of cash and some help making sales calls in the US government.

The second write up also underscores a need for change. The idea is that old fashioned approaches are not needed. New fangled approaches are the cat’s pajamas. The problem is that the new fangled methods make some interesting errors. To fix this, high profile social media companies are going to invent a fix via a coalition.

A method with practiced for news gathering exists. Traditional newspapers illustrate the method. The process works reasonably well. More accurately, the process worked when resources were available to employ individuals who conducted interviews and performed research.

The traditional method changed with software able to count who clicked on what, people with many digital friends, and systems which collect information and figure out what is important.

Now after some interesting mistakes, Internet giants are eager to improve what I call the millennial news method:

Channel 4 News, the Telegraph, the New York Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, ABC News in Australia and Agence France-Presse are among more than 20 news organizations to have signed up to the partner network, which is being organized through Google-backed First Draft.

Now Facebook (big dog) and Twitter (starving dog) are in the game. The point is that the millennial methods appear to work. Unfortunately fake news and other oddities creep into the smart systems. The new methods also help foster tension between the remaining traditional news outfits and the comparative newcomers or disruptors.

The idea of teaming up to improve smart software is interesting. The goal, of course, is to obtain high value information at the lowest possible cost; that is, with the fewest number of humans as possible.

When I read these two articles, I noted three ideas which struck me as worth thinking about:

  1. Methods exist which work yet interest gravitates away from what works to a need to find a better, more innovative process
  2. The perception that traditional methods practiced by the Department of Defense and old school newspapers are less useful than “new” approach may slow down innovation or, even worse, get the focus fuzzy.
  3. The Silicon Valley fascination with the bright and shiny may produce wasteful, duplicate efforts.

Stephen E Arnold, September 23, 2016

Alphabet Google Spells Mess for One Expert

September 10, 2016

An MBA infused article caught my attention. The title was a magnet, and I was not hunting for Google related information. Nevertheless, I read “Larry Page’s Grand Plan for Google Looks More Like a Mess than a Success.” Before I comment on the write up, I must admit I liked the euphony of “mess” and “success.” Ogden Nash would have approved I surmise.

The main point is that Google leveled up and created Alphabet. The idea was that a Ling Temco Vought style outfit would be more in tune with the Loon balloon business, the solving death business, the Google Fiber business, and the other alleged money engines the online ad firm was inventing or, at least, me-too’ing.

The write up points out that some financial discipline is in evidence. Google Fiber and the quite exciting Nest initiatives are under scrutiny. I noted this passage:

the company’s self-driving car project still hasn’t announced any business plan and a bunch of people have left. The life sciences division Verily has been accused of peddling “slideware,” and Google just killed its ambitious build-it-yourself-phone.

Right, the modular phone. Great idea. What happens when the little gem is dropped or the coefficient of friction decreases with use and the electronic bits drop into the garbage disposal?

The write up adds:

right now, the parts of the company that were once the perfect marketing for luring potential talent and showing off Google as the world’s most influential tech pioneer, look more like a mess than an advertisement.

Okay. That seems to be a bit negative.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, we love the Alphabet Google thing. The MBA-ish write up does not ask this question, “Why does Alphabet Google assume that its new initiatives will succeed?” The DNA of Google is anchored in the proteins of GoTo.com and Overture.com. This means Yahoo purple in these Alphabet Google progeny.

How is that family tree performing? After 15 years, Google has one revenue stream. Google’s success with “innovations” seems to be counter to the image the company tries to project. Do MBAs understand the mentality of “go to” members of the math team and science club? The last time I drove down 101 I noted a strong scent of musk when a Google self driving car crept past me. Interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, September 10, 2016

Alphabet Google Innovation: Doing the Uber Me Too Thing

September 5, 2016

I noted a flurry of articles about one of Alphabet Google’s most recent technical breakthroughs. If I understand the information in “Google Is Going Head-to-Head with Uber on Ride-Hailing,” the online ad supporter search giant will compete with Uber. Uber is, I believe, a taxi service without the sticky seats and interesting dashboard decorations.

According to the write up:

Waze Carpool is unlike Uber and Lyft in that it is not designed as a money-making enterprise for drivers, but rather as an ultra-cheap platform that helps people coordinate their rides to-and-from the office.

I noted that Alphabet Google experienced a Yogi Berra déjà vu moment. Navigate to “Alphabet Executive Steps Down From Uber Board Amid Growing Competition.” The Alphabet Google outfit employs a lawyer. That lawyer served on the Uber board of directors. Uber seems to be a company in the taxi business. The situation reminded me of another Googler who served on the board of Apple. When Google had the brilliant idea to create a mobile phone business, the Googler resigned from the Apple board. Yogi Berra. Déjà vu.

I learned about Mr. Drummond’s departure from the Uber board:

Drummond joined the board after Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV in 2013 invested about $250 million…in Uber, among the firm’s largest investments and a deal in which Drummond was involved. “I recently stepped down from Uber’s board given the overlap between the two companies,” Drummond said in a written statement sent to Reuters. “Uber is a phenomenal company and it’s been a privilege working with the team over the last two-plus years. GV remains an enthusiastic investor and Google will continue to partner with Uber.”

Is it possible that the Alphabet Google thing invests in companies and learns about a specific approach to business. Then the Alphabet Google thing processes that information and does an bit of reinvention? Probably not.

The fact that Alphabet Google is inventing a new approach to the gig economy is just one of those epiphanies which keep the Sillycon Valley world spinning.

I find that the usefulness of Google search results in my research is softening. Perhaps “softening” is not sufficiently firm. I have to work to locate on point information using the Google search system. I hope that the profits from the new venture are pumped into the firm’s search and retrieval system. I see many tiny green notices flagging results which are ads. I have to click through pages of results to locate information germane to my query. I have to work around the flabby syntax which Google makes available for those who want precision and recall. I have to use many different search strategies to locate a document I have in front of me because Google’s index seems to be on an ultra slim fast type diet.

I love innovation. The me too approach to innovation is an inspiration to original thinkers everywhere. Does Stanford teach a class in legal me too innovation? If not, perhaps the course should be offered. Guest lecturers can explore the Google Yahoo ad methods, the Google Apple mobile phone breakthroughs, the Google Uber insights. To add substance the the course, there might be a talk about Amazon Netflix synergies.

Yandex, the Russian search outfit, seems to have a dearth of fresh ideas too. I noted “Russian Search Giant Yandex Announces Self-Driving Car Partnership.” One thought I have is that search may be a dead end. Therefore, search vendors are chasing other folks’ ideas in order to find a less expensive, less challenging way to generate revenue? Me tooism may be a global trend.

Sillycon Valley innovation may not stand on the shoulders of giants. Innovation may be integrating another outfit’s business models. But only the best bits. Who wants to support drivers when smart software created by smart people can make life into an absolute doddle. The me too approach to innovation may create as many flavors of ride sharing taxis as there are types of dry breakfast cereal. What’s not to like?

Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2016

Alphabet Google and Its Losing Bets

August 19, 2016

I read “A Year after Google Transformed into Alphabet, the Only Thing Clear Is How Much Its Bets Are Losing.” (Now that is a title.) The write up explains that even for the Alphabet Google thing creating sustainable revenue streams is not as easy as solving trivial problems like death. Whoops. Death is not yet cracked. However, Google has cracked the Loon balloon as a wireless component.

I learned from the write up:

Google is still growing—its revenue last quarter was $21.3 billion, up 21% from a year earlier—but similar signs of life have not been seen in Other Bets. In the last four quarters, it’s lost over $3.7 billion, and only generated roughly $500 million in revenue, which works out to less than 1% of Alphabet’s quarterly sales.

In the grand scheme of online ad revenue, what’s the big deal?

This passage caught my attention:

Alphabet’s Other Bets includes things like Google Fiber, the company’s initiative to bring high-speed fiber-optic broadband to the US; Boston Dynamics, a research firm working on humanoid and dog-shaped robots for the military; and Nest, the internet-of-things company Google bought in 2014 that makes smart thermostats and other as-of-yet unnecessary gadgets. In the last year, Nest’s CEO Tony Fadell has left Alphabet amid claims that he was creating a “toxic” work atmosphere, and Boston Dynamics is apparently being shopped around for a buyer as Alphabet struggles to monetize its work.

My hunch is that the article is designed to suggest that the Alphabet Google thing has a problem. I am not sure its “bets” are the challenge. My thoughts flow to Amazon. Mr. Bezos’ outfit has generated additional lines of revenue and seems to be creating new services which complement the core business and open new revenue streams. There’s package delivery, subscriptions, and the cloud business. Even the space initiative and the dead tree newspaper are showing signs of life.

Perhaps the issue is what Google pursues versus what Amazon is doing? Which company is more likely to take a wild and crazy idea and make money from that notion? Some say Amazon; some say Google. Are these company names synonyms for innovation or concentrated market control? Time to go fishing with my Android tablet and a lure from Amazon.

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2016

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.


Bandwidth Item from DARPA

April 5, 2016

Short honk. If you follow the activities of the US government, you may be interested in “DARPA Wants to Give Radio Waves AI to ‘Stretch Bandwidth.” The idea is an important one. The reason is that the US government requires bandwidth to move around certain interesting data. Worth noting. Now about the value of bandwidth “owned” by commercial entities?

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2016

Forget Girolamo: Renaissance Florence Outdid Silicon Valley

January 28, 2016

You remember, Girolamo Savonarola, don’t you? Sure, he was the feisty character who did some forecasting, suggested death and hell fire for those into secular art, and a wild and crazy approach to the Big Guy.

Well, forget him. Forget the city state thing, the disease, the child labor, and the starvation of those who did not have land, jewels, and political clout via birth, commerce, or religious affiliation.

Look at the innovation. The Harvard wonks have and the “proof” is exposed in “Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is.” I learned:

Florence reminds us that even devastating events can yield surprising benefits. The city’s Renaissance blossomed only a few decades after the Black Death decimated the city, and in part because of it. Horrible as it was, the plague shook up the rigid social order, and that new fluidity led directly to artistic and intellectual revolution.

I thought money did the trick. Oh, well. Let’s think about how to make Silicon Valley into a baby Florence. Here’s a list of ideas derived from the Harvard ivory tower:

  1. Do the patronage thing. A rich person helps a talented young person. Altruism. More billionaires should help out the folks with great potential.
  2. Whip up some mentors. The faculty at Stanford might fill the bill unless the wizards are too busy consulting or running their own companies.
  3. Look for potential. That mesio in the Mission might be the next Bill Gates. Give the fellow a saw buck and a Tesla. No experience? No problem.
  4. Start a disaster or take advantage of what ever bad thing comes along. The point is to be prepared to act.
  5. Buddy up to the competition. Anti trust, collusion, price fixing, no poaching deals—yep, become pals.
  6. Do the Leonardo and Michelangelo two step. Look at what others are doing; for example, sculpting in the street and dupe it. Imitation is part of the “me too, me too” approach to innovation.

Now where will Silicon Valley put those churches? Think of the store fronts that can be dotted along the San Mateo Bridge. How I wish I was back in college so I could learn more about the wonders of Florence.

But there is that plague thing and, of course, Girolamo. Search was pretty good, just a manual thing available to insiders.

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2016

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