A Cheerleading Routine for AI

April 3, 2020

We have come across a good example of cheerleading with minimal facts. Rah rah for AI, cries the SmartData Collective in their write-up, “Experts Debunk the Biggest Myths About AI in Business.” Writer Sean Mallon begins by noting how fast the AI market is growing, which is indeed to be expected given recent developments (and hype). He declares the growth is due to businesses that comprehend how powerful a tool AI is. He writes:

“Companies are now increasing the adoption of this technology in a range of different industries, which covers diverse sectors such as healthcare, finance, marketing and more. Through the incorporation of AI, industries have seen major shifts in how they run. While the true potential of AI is now being recognized by businesses from all different sectors, many myths have floated around causing skepticism and unnecessary fear over this transformative technology. If AI is to reach its true potential in businesses across all industries, it’s important to explore, and further debunk, these common misconceptions.”

The piece magnanimously helps any reluctant companies see the light by deflating these “myths:” that AI steals jobs, that AI is hard to integrate, and, most dastardly, that AI may be unnecessary. On that last point, Mallon asserts:

“This is perhaps one of the biggest myths currently circulating around industries today, limiting businesses from unlocking their true potential. AI technology is increasingly becoming a part of daily life, especially in the business sector, boosting its productivity and furthering its growth and success. Companies everywhere are using AI to gain a competitive advantage, helping their business to work smarter and faster than those around them.”

For some, I’m sure that is the case; for others, not so much. Business is just too complex for such absolutes. As always, the best bet is to ignore the hype, know your organization’s needs and the capabilities of available software, and mix and match accordingly.

Cynthia Murrell, April 3, 2020

A Cheerleading Routine for AI

April 2, 2020

We have come across a good example of cheerleading with minimal facts. Rah rah for AI, cries the SmartData Collective in their write-up, “Experts Debunk the Biggest Myths About AI in Business.” Writer Sean Mallon begins by noting how fast the AI market is growing, which is indeed to be expected given recent developments (and hype). He declares the growth is due to businesses that comprehend how powerful a tool AI is. He writes:

“Companies are now increasing the adoption of this technology in a range of different industries, which covers diverse sectors such as healthcare, finance, marketing and more. Through the incorporation of AI, industries have seen major shifts in how they run. While the true potential of AI is now being recognized by businesses from all different sectors, many myths have floated around causing skepticism and unnecessary fear over this transformative technology. If AI is to reach its true potential in businesses across all industries, it’s important to explore, and further debunk, these common misconceptions.”

The piece magnanimously helps any reluctant companies see the light by deflating these “myths:” that AI steals jobs, that AI is hard to integrate, and, most dastardly, that AI may be unnecessary. On that last point, Mallon asserts:

“This is perhaps one of the biggest myths currently circulating around industries today, limiting businesses from unlocking their true potential. AI technology is increasingly becoming a part of daily life, especially in the business sector, boosting its productivity and furthering its growth and success. Companies everywhere are using AI to gain a competitive advantage, helping their business to work smarter and faster than those around them.”

For some, I’m sure that is the case; for others, not so much. Business is just too complex for such absolutes. As always, the best bet is to ignore the hype, know your organization’s needs and the capabilities of available software, and mix and match accordingly.

Cynthia Murrell, April 2, 2020

Smart Software Is Changing Work: But What about Actual Facts? Maybe the Pandemic? Maybe Revenue Misses?

March 31, 2020

AI Is Changing Work and Leaders need to Adapt” is a remarkable analysis of what seems to be taking place IRL (in real life) as opposed to the Ivory Tower world of a university business school. Just as economic departments missed the boat on certain economic developments, the business schools are doing their best to make statements oddly out of step with what’s shakin’ and bakin’ here and now.

This write up is an excellent example of what happens when data lag behind actual events. The notion of time is a problem for outfits like Google, but one would assume that the esteemed Harvard Business School would be zippier.

image

The article appeared on March 24, 2020. The information in the report was a “recent survey.” Yep, that date and time thing seems to elude the reader.

What does the article report?

The advent of AI poses new and unique challenges for business leaders.

Who holds this idea?

Harvard business school alumni.

But who, pray tell, gathered the insights from this “elite group”?

The answer is “A team at the MIT IBM Watson AI Lab.”

Now that’s a research team to respect: A frenemy university and a large US outfit which has become a punch line for wild and crazy assertions about Watson, the cancer curing TV game show winner.

Academic excellence? Objectivity? Substantial research achievements?

Let’s look at what’s reported about the survey of the elite, shall we?

ITEM 1: Job Data

our MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab team analyzed 170 million online job posts between 2010 and 2017. The study’s first implication: While occupations change slowly — over years and even decades — tasks become reorganized at a much faster pace.

So the research team examined online classifieds? What percentage were real jobs? What percentage were placed in order to obtain competitive intelligence? What percentage were red herrings intended to identify disgruntled employees? Those job listings appear to have been assumed to be valid. Okay. Let’s move on.

ITEM 2: Training

Millions of workers will need to be retrained or reskilled as a result of AI over the next three years, according to a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study.

What no data? That’s right. The findings are a marketing and PR pitch for another IBM study. My goodness, I used to think the McKinsey Award was a PR play. IBM has upped the ante: Harvard, MIT, and home grown research blend for a “finding.” This is academic excellence? This is intellectual honesty? Yeah, right. Remember MIT accepted funds from an interesting character, and Harvard. Right, Harvard. Fine outfit harboring consultants who do commercial work while conducting “research.”

ITEM 3: Educate

Our research shows that technology can disproportionately impact the demand and earning potential for mid-wage workers, causing a squeeze on the middle class. For every five tasks that shifted out of mid-wage jobs, we found, four tasks moved to low-wage jobs and one moved to a high-wage job. As a result, wages are rising faster in the low- and high-wage tiers than in the mid-wage tier.

Data? Nope. The finding is that graduating from an “elite” school delivers contacts, good employment and investment opportunities, and a lever to widen wage gaps. Do elite managers pay themselves and their colleagues less? But the interesting point is that there are zero data.

But who wrote this marketing fluff? An MIT tenured professor? A team of Harvard elite after making a podcast and enjoying ever so much one another’s company?

No.

The write up was written, according to the article, by Martin Fleming, IBM’s chief economist and vice president.

The survey data? The connection with the real world? Ha ha.

When Mad Magazine went out of business, I wondered what would fill the gap?

I now know. It is smart software, not the pandemic, and the demonstration that economists are as prescient as ever.

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2020

Fours Hours to Learn IBM Watson and Microsoft Azure. Believe It or Not. Hint: Not

March 26, 2020

DarkCyber believes that online instructional videos are useful. However, DarkCyber believes that overstatement, hyperbole, and general buzzword craziness undermine the credibility of those offering a program.

An excellent example of basic marketing information packaged like a six figure F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Vertical watch, navigate to “Machine Learning with Watson and Azure.” You can download a four hour chunk of video which presents 20 lectures. That works out to 12 minute videos at which time, you

would be able to develop and deploy your applications over IBM Cloud- Bluemix. and having command over the Watson services and tools available.

Now what will you learn? Here’s the line up:

  • Cognitive Computing and how Watson changes the game
  • Using Watson Visual Recognition to tag and classify visual content using machine learning
  • Capabilities of the Watson API and how to choose the best features for your task
  • Using Watson Assistant to build an AI assistant (ChatBot)
  • Using Watson Watson Discovery to unlock hidden values to find answers , monitor trends and surface patterns
  • Using Watson Natural Language Understanding for advanced text analysis
  • Using Watson Knowledge Studio to discover meaningful insights in unstructured text.
  • Using Watson Speech to Text to easily convert audio and voice into written text
  • Using Watson Text to Speech to convert text into natural-surrounding audio
  • Using Watson Language Translator to translate from one language to another
  • Using Watson Natural Language Classifier to interpret and classify natural language with confidence
  • Using Watson Personality Insights to predict personality characteristics through text
  • Using Watson Tone Analyzer to understand emotions and communications style in text
  • Text Analytics
  • Detecting Language
  • Analyze image and video
  • Recognition handwritten from text
  • Generate Thumbnail
  • Content Moderator
  • Custom Vision
  • Translate

But wait!

The programs will also explain Microsoft Azure services; for example:

  • Computer Vision
  • Content Moderator
  • Custom Vision
  • Text Analysis
  • Translator.

You will not need an IBM account, but you will need a Microsoft Azure account.

This seems like an interesting program. Perhaps the overselling contributes to some of IBM’s more interesting deployments?

Stephen E Arnold, March 26, 2020

IBM: A Leader in Following?

March 16, 2020

DarkCyber spotted “IBM Prepares To Advance Watson’s Language Ability.” The story appeared in Capital FM, an online publication in Nairobi. That’s okay. What’s interesting is that IBM has announced “the first commercialization of key Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to come from IBM Research’s Project Debater, the only AI system capable of debating humans on complex topics.”

What’s new, aside from the Kenya coverage? Here’s a sampling of the technologies that will allegedly make Watson a superhero: Natural language processing. Watson will understand sentiment which can “identify and analyze idioms and colloquialisms for the first time.” [Emphasis added]

Plus:

IBM is bringing technology from IBM Research for understanding business documents, such as PDF’s and contracts, to also add to their AI models.

Where’s the technology originate? Project Debater. There’s also “deep learning based classification which

can learn from as few as several hundred samples to do new classifications quickly and easily. It will be added to Watson Discovery later this year.

Also, there’s another innovation:

It will also exploit natural language through Clustering or Advanced Topic Clustering. Building on insights gained from Project Debater, new topic clustering techniques will enable users to “cluster” incoming data to create meaningful “topics” of related information, which can then be analyzed.

Okay, let’s step back. NLP, quick deep learning, clustering, and the other technologies. My recollection is:

  • IBM’s Dharmendra Modha was writing about text clustering in “Large Scale Parallel Data Mining” which is about a decade after the Endeca crowd fired up their functional facets for “Guided Navigation”. Now this clustering is coming to IBM Watson. What?
  • In 2003 IBM researchers filed a patent application for “US7130777, Method to hierarchical pooling of opinions from multiple sources.” Now Watson is doing what commercial vendors have been offering for many years; for example, Lexalytics in 2003. Not exactly a text book case of using home grown technology or emulating a competitor, is it?
  • And NLP dates back to 1993 and the work of Vincent Stanford, Ora Williamson, Elton Sherwin, and Frank Castellucci. See US5615296. These are IBM professionals. And 1993 was more than a quarter century ago.

Net net: Kenya, Watson, and technologies that have been around for decades are part of IBM’s preparations to add functions to Watson. “Prepares”, year, pretty speedy.

Watson? What are you doing? Maybe DarkCyber should ask Alexa?

Stephen E Arnold, March 16, 2020

Click Money from Google: A Digital Dodo?

March 15, 2020

At the beginning of 2020, Google released its 2019 end of year financial report and some amazing surprises were revealed. ZDNet has the details in the article, “The Mysterious Disappearance Of Google’s Click Metric.” For the first time since acquiring YouTube, Google shared revenue for YouTube and its cloud IT business, but they removed information about how much money the company made from clicks or the Cost-per-Click (CPC) plus its growth.

What does this mean for Google? It is even more confusing that the Wall Street analysts did not question the lack of information. The truth is something that Google might not want to admit, but the key to their revenue is dying and they are not happy.

“Google has a rapidly deflating advertising product, sometimes 29% less revenue per click, every quarter, year-on-year, year after year…. Every three months Google has to find faster ways of expanding the total number of paid clicks by as much as 66%. How is this a sustainable business model?  There is an upper limit to how much more expansion in paid links can be found especially with the shift to mobile platforms and the constraints of the display. And what does this say about the effectiveness of Google’s ads? They aren’t very good and their value is declining at an astounding and unstoppable pace.”

Google might start placing more ads on its search results and other services. It sounds like, however, Google will place more ineffective ads in more places. Google’s ads have eroded efficiency for years, plus there is the question of whether more bots, less humans are clicking these ads. Clicks do not create brands and most people ignore ads. Don’t you love ads?

Whitney Grace, March 15, 2015

Google Creates a Podcast about Marketing

March 13, 2020

Just a quick note. Google now outputs “Think with Google Podcast.” You can listen to show #2 at this link. the subject is “Captivating Creative.” Not much in terms of technical information, but the Mad Ave types may go ga-ga with the breezy style and fluffy content. One amusing aspect of the show is that Google wants to know more about you. Listeners are enjoined to take a survey about the show. The appeal takes place before the show. Imagine. Google wants to know more about you. What a surprise. Now how about a search engine for podcasts? Oh, right. Google has one. It’s super too.

Stephen E Arnold, March 13, 2020

Google Stadia: Google Wood or Just Recycled Cardboard?

March 12, 2020

DarkCyber does not play games. Sure, there are some young-at-heart DarkCyber games, but I ignore them. One of these hard-working individuals spotted “Google Stadia Hits an All-Time Low With This Embarrassing Tweet.” I am not much of a tweeter.

Apparently someone at Google does read tweets and noted one that contained this high school cheer / acrostic thing:

image

Note that there is no game for I.

A Googler replied, with a tweet, of course: “Why would you bring attention to this?”

I assume the answer is one of these choices:

a. It’s millennial or Gen X, Y, or Z humor

b. Stadia is not performing

c. Someone actually cares about Stadia to try to spell a word using the first letter of games on the service

d. There is a game on Stadia which uses the “what’s up” emoji instead of words.

The write up states:

Clearly, whoever is in charge of the Google Stadia Twitter account has stopped caring. It’s probably for the best since everyone else stopped caring about it months ago.

Google Stadia seemed doomed from the start, and things haven’t gotten much better. It lacks games, has a terrible monetization system, and generally isn’t all that convenient. It even pales in comparison to other similar systems like GeForce Now and Project xCloud. If the state of their social media is anything to go by, Google is already well on its way to just checking out and letting the system die. It’s hard to blame them. So far, Google Stadia seems like it was just a horrible idea.

DarkCyber has little insight to how things work at Google. I would surmise that whoever worked on Stadia has made an effort to catch on with a hot project team. No, not solving Death. Solving Stadia, however, may be a comparable challenge.

Stephen E Arnold, March 12, 2020

Intel: A Company Seemingly Unable to Move Up the Confidence Curve

March 6, 2020

DarkCyber noted stories about Intel’s quantum computing innovation. We chose to push the story into the “maybe later” file. Now is the time. The write up is “Intel Details ‘Horse Ridge’ Cryogenic Quantum Computing Control Chip.” There are some tough-to-believe quantum computing announcements zipping around the interweb’s tubes. A revolution will be forthcoming from a thermostat and weapons control systems vendor. There was an announcement about a quantum computer that cost less than a $1,000. (No, DarkCyber did not purchase one, nor did any of the team sign up for a multi hour lecture about the wonders of quantum computing. Science fiction is not on the corona virus menu unless one globe trots to advanced technology conferences.) Now quantum computers are going to be — really soon — fast computers, and fast computers need chips and stuff.

So what’s with the Horse Ridge thing?

Intel wants to control those very expensive quantum computers. The company has announced a”cryogenic quantum control chip.” Below is a snap of what’s needed for a modest cryogenic set up about the size of an old fashioned school lunch box:

Image result for overclocking cryogenic

Here’s a more robust set up for a mostly working quantum computer. The installation is about the size of soccer mom’s van.

Image result for cyogenic cooling

Intel is going to control these types of units plus other assorted gizmos required to make quantum computing a useful system… sometime.

The Horse Ridge write up chirps:

The semiconductor giant and QuTech — a partnership between TU Delft and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) — detailed in a research paper that where scalability is concerned, the integrated System-on-a-Chip design can integrate four radiofrequency (RF) channels into a single 4x4mm device. According to Intel, this was achieved by using Intel’s 22nm FFL CMOS technology. The company added that each channel could control up to 32 qubits to leverage “frequency multiplexing” — a technique described by Intel as dividing the total bandwidth available into a series of non-overlapping frequency bands — each of which could be used to carry a separate signal.

If the write up is accurate, Intel did not do this work alone. The development of a control system is not actually a quantum computer. But Intel has a quantum marker in the Web indexes.

Does Horse Ridge work? Sure, under precise lab conditions, DarkCyber is confident the chip does something; otherwise, the PR professionals would not have the green light to tell DarkCyber and the world that Intel, like the thermostat vendor, is “into” quantum computing.

Why comment on this story now?

The answer is that DarkCyber spotted ITPro’s article “Intel Unable to Fix Critical Hardware-Encoded CPU Flaw.” The write up states what is an allegedly accurate statement of the limitations of Intel’s designers and engineers:

Some of the most widely-used Intel chips released over the last five years are embedded with a critical vulnerability at the hardware level, as well as within the firmware. A flaw has been discovered in the Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME) boot ROM on most Intel chipsets and system on a chip (SoC) units available today, apart from 10th-gen CPUs with Ice Point components.

The write up includes this interesting statement:

The range of devices afflicted is very broad, according to Intel. These include CSME-ready chips with SPS firmware for servers, TXE firmware for tablets or low-power devices, DAL software for machines ranging from workstations to IoT devices, and the AMT module used for remote IT management.

Yes, Intel’s credibility seems to be making modest progress. Furthermore, the Horse Ridge announcement makes clear that progress comes by leveraging a non US organization’s innovations as evidence of quantum traction.

Intel needs snow tires, chains, and a four wheel drive to make it up Horse Ridge and pull itself out of the rut of that allows an attacker to conduct arbitrary code execution on lots of personal computers, servers, and other devices.

Net net: Intel seems to face a Boeing Max like challenge.

Stephen E Arnold, March 6, 2020

Honeywell: The Quantum Computing Thermostat Company

March 5, 2020

Yeah, that’s a bit of rural Kentucky humor. Honeywell is in four businesses and a fifth apparently has been added: Quantum computing. If you think Honeywell and recall the user friendly thermostat in your home, you are not thinking about the future, government contracts, breaking computing barriers, and putting technology pretenders like IBM, Google, and dozens of other companies in their place.

image

The Honeywell he CommercialPRO 7000 Programmable Thermostat is fantastic, according to Honeywell. For an entertaining experience, ask a friend to set the temperature for 4 pm today. This is a TikTok viral video DarkCyber believes.

To refresh your memory, DarkCyber wants to point out that Honeywell was once based in Wabash, Indiana. The firm generates about $40 billion a year from:

  • Aerospace
  • Building technologies
  • Materials
  • Safety productivity systems.

Now Honeywell is in the quantum computing business, according to the Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2020, edition. You may be able to locate the story behind a paywall at this link.

Honeywell has enjoyed a number of government contracts, and the firm is one of the leaders in smart controls and weapons management technology. In 1955, Honeywell teamed with Raytheon in order to compete with IBM. By the mid 1960s, Honeywell was one of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of Computing. (Unfamiliar with this bit of digital history, Bing or Google may turn up some relevant hits, but I would recommend microfilm of the Minneapolis newspapers from this era. Don’t let your Bermuda shorts get in a bunch as you explore the innovations of Burroughs, Control Data Corp., GE, NCR, RCA, and my personal fave Univac.

Honeywell does a significant amount of computing and software/systems development. The firms owns a number of high technology business; for example, a radiation detection firm and has a stake in Zapata Computing.

Zapata says here:

We are the deepest bench of quantum scientists in the industry. Our founders helped create the field of near-term quantum algorithms including the invention of VQE, the progenitor of variational quantum algorithms.

The company’s approach relies on quantum charge coupled device (QCCD) architecture. The approach uses a technology called “trapped ions.” The idea is that useful work can be done due to leveraging mid circuit measurement. The idea is to insert a dynamic “if” based on the state of the calculation at a point in time. IonQ and Alpine Quantum Technologies also use the method. For some details, do a patent search for “trapped ion”. The background of US5793091A (assigned to IBM) provides some helpful information.

What business opportunities does Honeywell envision for its quantum computer? Here’s a selection gleaned from the PR blitz Honeywell launched a short time ago:

  • Landing more customers like JPMorgan, Chase, and Company
  • Speeding up financial calculations
  • Creating new trading strategies (high speed trading?)
  • Materials science applications (heat shields, stealth coatings?)
  • Run Monte Carlo simulations (nuclear fuel analyses, risk and fraud analyses?)

The Honeywell quantum computer will be bigger than IBM’s quantum computer.

Interesting business play because Honeywell has a deal with Microsoft to plug the Honeywell technology into the Azure cloud.

The coverage of Honeywell’s announcement reveals the hyperbole associated with quantum computing. DarkCyber interprets the assertions as the equivalent of an athlete’s pre-season exercise routine. Progress may be made, but the effort can only be judged when the “star” is on the field and in the game.

Until then, the buzzword sells expectations, not a solution to a here-and-now problem. One has to admire Honeywell’s PR generating capability.

Stephen E Arnold, March 5, 2020

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta