Pavlovian Marketing: The Automated Business Intelligence Engine

May 22, 2019

If you are following the rapid evolution of smart marketing systems, you will want to keep your eye on Trial Run Media. The company offers consumers free trials like toothpaste linked to automatic data collection. The consumer’s behavior informs the monitor what’s of interest. Then the monitor can push ads and similar offers to the consumer.

The approach is explained in “World’s First Automated Business Intelligence Engines That Offer On-Demand Marketing.” The approach is explained this way:

With Trial Run, consumers are in charge of the marketing experience. They choose the ‘content’ – a free sample of the brand they want to try – by entering a campaign URL into the browser of their smartphones. They are then prompted to enter their name and cell phone number, after which, they effortlessly receive a code to enter into ABIE’s keypad to release the sample.

One of Trial Run’s founders allegedly said:

“When someone has chosen to try your brand, they want to hear your brand story and with Trial Run the possibilities are endless – you can share videos, you can chat in real-time, you can invite consumers to events and even direct them to your online store in the moment when they have your brand in their hand.”

Imagine how useful the system would be, assuming it works well, if harnessed to information.The company’s Web site is Note that there is a  “fractal analytics” company with a similar name. These could be easily confused.

Stephen E Arnold, May 22, 2019

How to Pronounce CLTRe

May 21, 2019

DarkCyber was able to figure out how to say the name “KnowBe4.” This company is in the cyber security business and it obviously offers technology which can let a person “know before” something bad happens and take appropriate remediation steps.

KnowBe4 purchased a company named “CLTRe.” Here’s the question:

How does one pronounce “CLTRe”? The problem is similar to figuring out what the letters of a vanity license plate “mean”.

Here’s an easy one:

Image result for vanity license plate

What about this?

Image result for vanity license plate

Okay, back to the problem: CLTRe.

The answer appears in “KnowBe4 to Acquire Norwegian Assessment Company CLTRe.”

The word is “culture.”

The business of CLTRe is to measure clients’ security preparedness.

According to the article:

KnowBe4 currently is integrating the CLTRe assessments into its platform, and does not plan to change its pricing as a result of the deal.

We also noted this statement:

This deal marks only the latest cybersecurity merger or acquisition in an industry that analysts predict will only continue to consolidate. The data backup service Carbonite in February acquired Webroot, and some $3 billion of investors’ dollars has been pumped into the industry so far this year…

Will KnowBe4 retain the name of the company it just acquired?

WDKBWHN. This means “we don’t know but we hope not.

Stephen E Arnold, May 21, 2019

Alphabet and Its Privacy Push or Alphabet Can Spell Me Too

May 8, 2019

The Seattle Times wrote about Google’s privacy push. “Google’s Privacy Promises Don’t Sway Many Experts” includes a number of interesting quotes from the experts. Here’s an example of one that seems close to the mark:

“They’re sort of marginal improvements,” said Jeremy Tillman, president of Ghostery, which provides ad-blocking and anti-tracking software. “They are not bad, but they almost seem like they’re designed to give the company a better messaging push instead of making wholesale improvements to user privacy.”

Like Facebook, privacy is the in thing.

Stephen E Arnold, May 8, 2019

Cognos: Now Transforming Business After Only 50 Years

May 3, 2019

It is 1969, and Cognos officially opened for business. That was a half century ago. Over the years, Cognos in its 50 years of “transformation” has absorbed a number of other technologies. Anyone remember Databeacon, the mid market analytics outfit. Cognos strikes me as an umbrella brand. According to CIO’s article “5 Ways IBM Cognos Analytics Is Transforming Business,” IBM’s Cognos Analytics has integrated the artificial intelligence capabilities of IBM Watson Analytics.

Okay, 50 years, much thrashing, and IBM is not on a part with the zippier outfits like DataRobot’s Eureqa. The idea of transforming is interesting, but I am not sure I buy into what looks to me like an example IBM marketing and PR. Sorry, CIO. I am just as suspicious as my neighbors here in Harrod’s Creek.

Here are the transforming things:

  1. Maximizing charitable donations (No, I am not kidding.)
  2. Optimizing retail operations with purchasing analytics. (What about Amazon’s data for merchants?)
  3. Leveraging data to maximize fan engagement. (No, I am not making this up.)
  4. Predicting audience viewing preferences.
  5. Deploying data science to keep salmon healthy. (Watson may not be a winner in the cancer thing, but it appears to work on fish.)

After 50 years, the write up points to these examples or use cases as transformational. Amazing.

Eureka may not capture what Cognos with Watson can deliver. The experience, however, could cause DataRobot’s phone to ring.

PS. What’s even more amazing, one of the DarkCyber team had to register to read what is marketing collateral. Interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, May 3, 2019

Google: Forgetting or Selective Remembering?

March 27, 2019

Google created many useful and brilliant projects from its trademark search to Gmail and its free office suite. Google also has its share of failures, most notably Google+ and now the admission that they “forgot” about a microphone in its Nest Secure security system. BGR reports that, “Congress Wants Google To Explain How It Forgot About The Nest Secure Microphone.”

Google says they entirely “forgot” about a microphone inside their Nest Secure security system. Smart home security systems, such as the Nest Secure, are popular among homeowners, because it allows them to monitor their homes remotely, maintain a constant camera feed, and more. Smart security systems are supposed to protect individuals and their privacy, but some US senators are concerned about citizens’ privacy and Google’s “forgotten” microphone.

Senators and their constituents are worried that large tech companies are taking advantage of their end users and are not being transparent. Google maintains its commitment to transparency and its chief privacy officer said so during a Us Senate Committee hearing. Google will respond further to the issue in mid to late March 2019 with answers about the Nest Secure’s technical specifications, how they communicated with consumers, and what stage it was forgotten.

Google is taking the full blame:

“As we mentioned last week, Google has already released a pretty bare-bones mea culpa about this, sharing a statement with Business Insider that says the mike was never meant to be a secret and should have been included in the tech specs. ‘That was an error on our part.’ The company went on to explain that ‘the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option.’ The long and short of this is that if you bought Nest’s $500 home security system, which is only a year old, you’re just now learning that you’ve inadvertently had a microphone in your home for a year or more that you didn’t know was there. The ball is now in Google’s court to respond to the questions raised in the Senators’ letter…”

Perhaps someone at Google should read Surveillance Capitalism. No, forget that.

Whitney Grace, March 27, 2019

Facial Recognition: Accuracy in Marketing

March 10, 2019

Measurements of accuracy in search and retrieval, image recognition, and tagging human behavior are variable. Results wander from evaluation to evaluation. One can break a text retrieval system by including emojis or explicit cues that  a statement belongs to a specific context. What does “cool” mean?

Recognition of images is equally tricky. Toss in low contrast images with individuals wearing hats, sun glasses, and motorcycle gang style bandanas. How accurate are these systems?

The way to work around the problem is to craft test sets of content or images. The idea is that a well formed test set will provide a level playing field.

The problem is, of course, that life is not a level playing field.

I read summaries of the NIST image recognition tests, the subsequent calls for control by Microsoft (the fading monopolist), and some of the comments about facial recognition (FR) systems having difficulty with certain ethnic groups.

When I read these, I recall the image from a hotel opening, I wonder if today’s systems can ID these individuals “accurately”:


The write up “Why Chinese Companies Plug a US Test for Facial Recognition” summarizes the results of a NIST test and references other FR bake offs. The results are variable.

My view is that the Chinese systems’ performance is less about accuracy and more about sending a message; namely,

China is in the game.

The point of FR may be that accuracy is less important than reminding those interested in FR that Chinese technology has caught up and may surpass US smart software.

Will FR be 100 percent accurate? Not as long as photos like this have to be figured out:


FR is making progress. Progress is incremental. That applies to the US and other countries’ systems.

Stephen E Arnold, March 10, 2019

Simple Ways Intelligence is Fighting Cyber Crimes

March 8, 2019

Our world has never been more technologically advanced, that’s a fact. That also means that the digital threats have never been more dire, right? Yes and no, according to one source, who says that the technology might change but humans never do. We learned more from a recent CNBC story, “Google Infosec Head Heather Adkins: Ignore Scare Stories.”

According to the story:

“Adkins said sometimes the marketplace suffers from a “proliferation of cybersecurity professionals” offering conflicting advice on passwords, antivirus software, safety practices and so on…But the best rules for individuals looking to secure their personal information are the classics, Adkins said…Keep your software up to date, and don’t re-use the same password.”

This and many other examples show that good old fashioned foresight and detective work can still help fight cybercrime, even in this world of machine learning and nanotech. As Adkins says, let’s look forward in regards to security, but also not forget our past.

However, fear, uncertainty, and doubt sell—particularly to some executives uncomfortable with today’s business environment.

Patrick Roland, March 8, 2019

IBM at the Consumer Electronic Show

January 6, 2019

Yep, IBM is a consumer product company. I know this because I read “LA Sues Weather Channel App Over Stealthy Data Collection.” Consumer centric outfits like Facebook and Google may operate this way. If IBM is indeed sucking and selling data from is Weather Channel App, it too must be a consumer products’ company.

I noted “Struggling IBM Uses CES to Reinvent Itself.” I assumed that that reinvention was selling data. But, no, once again I was incorrect, a common failing.

I learned from the write up:

At CES, Rometty is expected to emphasize IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) undisputed AI chops along with its aggressive moves into the hybrid cloud market and quantum computing. But the underlying theme will be what the company characterizes as “new data,” and using AI and cloud platforms to “refine” data into something useful.

I thought it was a somewhat squishy marketing opportunity, a way to disappoint stakeholders, and a cloud of fog generated about mainframes actually selling.

No CES for me. My hunch is that those seeking gadgets will have a tough time hauling away Watson on a laptop or a desktop IBM quantum computer.

See, IBM does do consumer products as long as one defines consumer in a somewhat narrow sense.

But that sneaky app thing is promising. Isn’t the former head of the Weather Channel now head of Watson. The IBM revolving door makes me dizzy.

Stephen E Arnold, January 6, 2019

IBM: Sharing Wisdom

January 3, 2019

Apparently, it does not take just one white paper to convince people that IBM is number one—it takes 10. That is the number of publications the company shares on its AI Research page, “The New Frontiers of AI: Selected IBM Research AI Publications from 2018.” The introduction to the collection reads:

“Much of the recent progress in AI has relied on data-driven techniques like deep learning and artificial neural networks. Given sufficiently large labeled training data sets and enough computation, these approaches are achieving unprecedented results. As a result, there has been a rapid gain on ‘narrow AI’ – tasks in areas such as computer vision, speech recognition, and language translation. However, a broader set of AI capabilities is needed to progress AI towards solving real-world challenges. In practice, AI systems need to learn effectively and efficiently without large amounts of data. They need to be robust, fair and explainable. They need to integrate knowledge and reasoning together with learning to improve performance and enable more sophisticated capabilities.

We also noted:

“Where are we in this evolution? While ‘general AI’ – AI that can truly think, learn, and reason like a human- is still within the realm of science fiction, ‘broad AI’ that can learn more generally and work across different disciplines is within our reach. IBM Research is driving this evolution. We have been a pioneer of artificial intelligence since the inception of the field, and we continue to expand its frontiers through our portfolio of research focused on three areas: Advancing AI, Scaling AI, and Trusting AI.”

As the echoes of IBM tooting its own horn linger, one can glean some interesting information from the documents presented. The papers are broken into color-coded categories—Advancing AI, Scaling AI, and Trusting AI. A couple of the simpler titles include “Listening Comprehension over Argumentative Content” and “Training Deep Neural Networks with 8-bit Floating Point Numbers.” Navigate to the post for all the (very) technical wisdom.

Cynthia Murrell, January 3, 2019

Life with a Digital Father: An Interesting View of Employee Protests at Google

December 14, 2018

I noted “The ‘father of the internet’ says that Google employee backlash to its defense work was just ‘a lot of misunderstanding’.” Someone told me that I should locate this article.

I did.

Here’s the paragraph I circled in very bright yellow:

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the positive benefits of working with [and] in the public sector, the military being a part of that.

The speaker is Vint Cerf, the chief evangelist for Google.

The “that” is a contract with the Department of Defense.

The misunderstanding is or was in the minds of Googlers.

The “positive benefit” may be selling more work to the US government, that is, the military with an interest in smart drones to do the find, fix, and finish business.

After watching most of Google’s testimony before a committee of US elected officials, I do not understand how any Google level person could misunderstand what Google’s senior management says.

Crystal. Clear.

Stephen E Arnold, December 14, 2018

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