IBM Watson: Now Tackling Travel Costs

November 13, 2018

Machine learning and artificial intelligence is really making a dent on corporate waste. Those interested in the bottom line are sitting up and taking notice. We discovered one inventive way to shed a few pounds of corporate flab from a recent IT News Africa story, “TravelPort, IBM Launch AI Travel Platform.”

According to the story:

“Delivered via the IBM Cloud, the platform uses IBM Watson capabilities to intelligently track, manage, predict and analyze travel costs in one place to fundamentally change how companies manage and optimize their travel programs… The new platform features advanced artificial intelligence, and provides cognitive computing, predictive data analytics using “what-if” type scenarios, and integrated travel and expense data.”

While corporate travel might not seem like it will change your life personally, unless you own a globetrotting company, it provides insight into a bigger picture. Take, for example, how oncology is slashing costs with AI with technology that detects cancer more accurately than human eyes. There is seemingly no end to ways in which AI can help pull a company from the red to the black. Even public services, like courtrooms, have begun using this tech to speed up the sentencing process. Watch for this to seep into your world, even if you don’t expect it.

Those surprising IBM Watson folks. Talented.

Patrick Roland, November 13, 2018

IBM Inventor A Minority, Female, And An Anomaly

October 27, 2018

Women and minorities in the technology industry are underrepresented and often white whales, purple giraffes, pink elephants, and even black swans. The Dallas News reports on one of these colorful creatures in the article, “Star IBM Inventor Fears Emails Can Be Brutal, So She Built A Tool To Fix It.”

Romelia Flores is Latina, female, and one of IBM’s top worldwide technologists. She holds 38 patents, including several “high-value patents” that have impacted IBM’s revenue stream, and she has 30 more pending. Flores works with clients to help design products and solutions to their problems in imaginative and innovative ways.

IBM has named Flores an IBM master inventor and she is extremely proud of that title. One of her favorite inventions is an email tone checker. Flores said that email is often impersonal and brutal, so her tone analyzer. She designed it after she was criticized for being too blunt in her communications.

The tone analyzer is apparently very smart:

“‘So before I hit send on my email, it flags to me, ‘Hey, Romelia, you didn’t put any courtesy verbiage at the front,’ or ‘Gee, Romelia, you were pretty direct at giving orders, so you might want to add a please here.’ “It even factors in the personality traits of the IBM recipient. ‘It’ll say, ‘Hey, she doesn’t respond well to directness, so maybe you should be a little nicer and lighten up your email.’ It’ll even propose verbiage for me. Is that cool or what?’”

The rest of the article is an empowering puff piece about an extremely intelligent female and minority engineer at IBM. It makes you wonder if this piece was written to demonstrate how progressive IBM is. Is Flores an anomaly at IBM? Let’s ask Watson? Well, Watson seems to be a male. Is that an issue?

Whitney Grace, October 27, 2018

IBM Watson: Amping Up Its Marketing with Hockey Harmony, Earthquake Coping, and World Surf League Insights

October 25, 2018

IBM’s dip in revenues may have contributed to the step up in IBM Watson marketing. The Beyond Search goose noted several interesting examples. These are long on assertions and short on facts about training time, cost, and support. But, hey, this is marketing in 2018, so the approach can be a bit like the two step on Dancing with the Stars.

ITEM ONE: Influential, a company using IBM Watson to power its revenues, has hired a new business officer. Andrew Pelosi (does the name sound familiar?) will be go to smart software champion. His preparation for the job? VP of biz dev at the World Surf League. Sounds like a good fit.

ITEM TWO: What do you do when an earthquake strikes your child’s school? The correct answer, “Trust IBM Watson.” Yep, IBM is in the earthquake amelioration business. “When an Earthquake Hits, Watson Solution Helps Schools Cope” reveals:

“Frida [a Watson powered solution] mitigates natural disasters by combining emergency data with AI technology using IBM IoT platform, Watson Studio, and Watson Services,” said Lin Ju, Watson Studio senior development manager at IBM Canada Lab who led the team. “For our proof of concept, we focused on earthquakes in schools, but this solution can be applied to other areas.”

Rest easy. Frida Watson will help schools cope. Parents? Maybe.

ITEM THREE: How will a company manufacturing athletic gear find a sports personality? The answer, as you might have guessed, is IBM Watson. According to “Fizziology Employs Watson Linguistic Analysis to Match Endorsing Athletes”:

In Fizziology’s endeavor, which it says is the first brand-to-celebrity matching employing the supercomputer’s linguistic analysis, Watson examines the social media posts of a given brand’s fans to determine the personality traits they assign to the brand, as well as the traits indicated by the athletes’ own posts. In both cases, the posts were made to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Do athletes write their own social media posts? My hunch is, “Maybe.” If this is true, Watson will extract from a PR person’s posts the data needed to perform a match. Watson has many talents, including figuring out an athlete’s Closeness, Curiosity, Self Expression, and Harmony score. Yep, hockey players in the Harmony department.

Ah, IBM Watson. Interesting stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, October 24, 2018

Advice for High School Science Club Type Managers

October 25, 2018

I spotted an interesting quote in “Aramark Exec: ‘Trying to Explain AI and Machine Learning to the C-Suite Is a Waste of Time’”.

Here it is:

“Trying to explain AI and machine learning to the C-suite is a waste of time,” said Pavan Arora, Chief AI Officer at Aramark. “Instead, show them what you can do. In doing so, you need to figure out your metric for this work. For example, if you’re looking at labor and optimization, the metric is about reducing over time and data optimization.”

Is this attitude one of the reasons companies like Facebook and Google take a more general approach to explaining exactly what their systems are doing?

High school science club management theory: Explaining why one puts a motorcycle on the roof of the high school is a waste of time. “They” would not understand. Now about those MIT pranks?

Stephen E Arnold, October 25, 2018

Google and IBM: Me Too Marketing or a Coincidence?

October 15, 2018

I noted this article: “Google AI Researchers Find Strange New Reason to Play Jeopardy.” What caught my attention was the introduction of the TV game show which featured IBM Watson stomping mere humans in a competition. I dismissed the human versus machine as a Madison Avenue ad confection. IBM wanted to convince the folks in West Virginia and rural Kentucky that Watson smart software was bigger than college basketball.

I think it worked. It allowed me to crank out write ups poking fun at the cognitive computing assertion, the IBM billion dollar revenue target, and the assorted craziness of IBM’s ever escalating assertions about the efficacy of Watson. I even pointed out that humans had to figure out the content used to “train” Watson and then fiddle with digital knobs and levers to get the accuracy up to snuff. The behind the scenes work was hidden from the Madison Avenue creatives; the focus was on the sizzle, not the preparatory work in the knowledge abattoir.

The Googlers have apparently discovered Jeopardy. I learned that Google uses Jeopardy to inform its smart software about reformulating questions. Here’s a passage I highlighted:

Active Question Answering,” or Active QA, as the TensorFlow package is called, will reformulate a given English-language question into multiple different re-wordings, and find the variant that does best at retrieving an answer from a database.

I am not going to slog through the history of query parsing. The task is an important one, and in my opinion, without providing precise indexing such as “company type” and other quite precise terms, queries go off base. The elimination of explicit Boolean has put the burden on query processors figuring out what humans mea when they type a query using the word “terminal” for instance. Is it a computer terminal or is it a bus terminal. No indexing? Well, smart software which looks up data in a dynamic table will do the job in a fine, fine way. What if one wants to locate a white house? Is it the DC residence of the president or is it the term for Benjamin Moore house paint when one does not know 2126-70?

Well, Google has embraced Jeopardy to make its smart software smarter and ignore the cost, time, and knowledge work of creating controlled term lists, assigning and verifying index accuracy, and fine grained indexing to deal with the vagaries of language.

So, Google seems to have hit upon the idea of channeling IBM Watson.

But I recalled seeing this article: “Google AI Can Spot Advanced Breast Cancer More Effectively Than Humans.” That reminded me of IBM Watson’s message carpet bombing about the efficacy of Big Blue cancer fighting. The only problem was that articles like “IBM Pitched Its Watson Supercomputer As a Revolution in Cancer Care. It’s Nowhere Close” Continue to Appear.”

Is Google channeling IBM’s marketing?

My hypothesis is that Google is either consciously or unconsciously tilling an already prepped field for marketing touch points. IBM did Jeopardy; Google does Jeopardy with the question understanding twist. IBM did cancer; Google does a specific type of cancer better than humans and, obviously, better than IBM Watson.

So what? My thought is that Google is shifting its marketing gears. In the process, the Google-dozer is dragging its sheep’s’ foot roller across the landscape slowly recovering from IBM’s marketing blitzes.

Will this work?

Hey, Google, like Amazon, wants to be the 21st century IBM. Who knows? I thank both companies for giving me some new fodder for my real live goats which can walk away from behemoth smart machines reworking the information landscape.

Here’s a thought? Google is more like IBM than it realizes.

Stephen E Arnold, October 15, 2018

Data Wizard: School or Short Cut?

August 2, 2018

With the increase focus on data analytics and search, the role of data scientists has changed drastically over the last decade, or heck, even over the last twelve months. With that increasing dependence on their skills and the continual flexibility of their world, higher ed has been responding. Turns out, these number crunchers are becoming increasingly educated, according to a fascinating article from Kaggle, “The State of ML and Data Science in 2017.”

  • The survey spoke with thousands of machine learning and data science experts and found a variety of insights, like how 41.8% have a Master’s degree, but only 15% have doctorals.
  • “What is your highest level of formal education?
  • “So, should you get that next degree? In general, the highest percentage of people in working data science, obtained a Master’s degree. But those people in the highest salary ranges ($150K – $200K and $200k+) are just as likely to have a doctoral degree.”

Many schools are beginning to offer data science programs for undergrads and grad students, however, universities are now struggling to define what this fluid field exactly, “is”. The University of Houston had to grapple with just such an issue and the results were vague at best. But, we’d say these baby steps are in the right direction.

Beyond Search believes that some “data experts” just tweak their LinkedIn profiles. Easy. Quick. Marketing.

Patrick Roland, August 2, 2018

Taking Time for Search Vendor Limerance

April 18, 2018

Life is a bit hectic. The Beyond Search and the DarkCyber teams are working on the US government hidden Web presentation scheduled this week. We also have final research underway for the two Telestrategies ISS CyberOSINT lectures. The first is a review of the DarkCyber approach to deanonymizing Surface Web and hidden Web chat. The second focuses on deanonymizing digital currency transactions. Both sessions provide attendees with best practices, commercial solutions, open source tools, and the standard checklists which are a feature of  my LE and intel lectures.

However, one of my associates asked me if I knew what the word “limerance” meant. This individual is reasonably intelligent, but the bar for brains is pretty low here in rural Kentucky. I told the person, “I think it is psychobabble, but I am not sure.”

The fix was a quick search. The wonky relevance of the Google was the reason for the shift to the once indomitable Microsoft.

Limerance, according to Bing’s summary of Wikipedia means “a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person typically including compulsive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship and have one’s feelings reciprocated.”


Upon reflection, I decided that limerance can be liberated from the woozy world of psychologists, shrinks, and wielders of water witches.

Consider this usage in the marginalized world of enterprise search:

Limerance: The state of mind which causes a vendor of key word search to embrace any application or use case which can be stretched to trigger a license to the vendor’s “finding” system.


Read more

The Old The Article Will Be Just a Click Away Ploy

March 31, 2018

I saw a link in one of my newsfeeds.

The starting point was a story called “8 Data and Analytics Trends to Watch” in a blog called The story ended about half way through. To see the rest of the story I had to click a link.

That second link sent me to “8 Data and Analytics Trends to Watch” on a site called The story ended about half way through. To see the rest of the story I had to click another link.

That link sent me to a MicroStrategy Web site at No story this time but I was invited to click a link in order to download a white paper.

I declined.

Several observations:

  • I wonder if anyone at these firms asked themselves this question, “How will people react to this play?”
  • I made a note about each of these sources. That note says, “Avoid these outfits.”
  • Perhaps each of these “real news” outfits should consider shifting to a consulting service along the lines of the GSR-type of outfit?”

Oh, the trends revealed were of little interest to the deadbeats and unemployed in Harrod’s Creek. A group of MBA students from the disgraced University of Louisville could have generated a comparable list of data and analytic trends. Scary intellectual parity.

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2018

Stephen E

Visualization Aims to Be Huge in 2018

March 9, 2018

Al the data in the world won’t do you much good if users can’t visualize it. This has been a fact for the computer since Steve Jobs was working out of a garage. But with today’s onslaught of big data, it’s more important than ever. Luckily, it’s going to be huge in the coming year, according to a recent Business Wire article, “IHS Markit Identifies the Top Eight Tech Trends for 2018.”

According to the story, the two best trends are:

Trend #5: Ubiquitous video

The growing use of screens and cameras across multiple consumer- and enterprise-device categories, along with increasingly advanced broadcast, fixed and mobile data networks, is powering an explosion in video consumption, creation, distribution and data traffic. More importantly, video content is increasingly expanding beyond entertainment into industrial applications for medical, education, security and remote controls, as well as digital signage.

Trend #6: Computer vision

The increasing importance of computer vision is directly tied to the mega-trend of digitization that has been playing out in the industrial, enterprise and consumer segments. The proliferation of image sensors, as well as improvements in image processing and analysis, are enabling a broad range of applications and use cases including industrial robots, drone applications, intelligent transportation systems, high-quality surveillance, and medical and automotive.

Perhaps nowhere will this intersection of big data and visualization be bigger than with AI. Experts are ready for artificial intelligence to become user-friendly and they all say it’ll be through visualization. Just wait to see what the new year brings.

Patrick Roland, March 9, 2018

Step Into the Dark Web My Sweet

February 27, 2018

Parents tell their children, “If you do not go looking for trouble, it will not come looking for you.” How many of us would like to believe this is true?  Sometimes, without even trying, trouble finds us and we can become entangled in illegal activities.  One of the benefits of the Dark Web (if there are any) is that it is very hard to stumble upon and get in trouble.  The Dark Web requires a special browser, then you need to search for the Web site addresses, and most of the time those do not work.  If you do get embroiled in the Dark Web, merchants of illegal goods will do their best to earn your trust and your dollars.  Natuilus explains how in the article, “How Darknet Sellers Built Trust.”

There is always a risk buying online, even from reputable places like eBay and Amazon.  The Dark Web, however, has a very high buyer satisfaction rate and sellers are reputable.  One would think that the Dark Web would be chock full of scammers, but it is not.  Before the FBI shut down the Silk Road in 2013, an illegal drug marketplace, more than 100 of drug orders the agency placed tested for high purity levels.

Reputation is everything for Dark Web sellers and their selling profiles mirror eBay and Amazon.  There are even discount programs, sales, and loyalty programs; even more amazing are the sellers that appeal to buyer’s ethics by selling “organic” and “conflict-free” drugs.  While Dark Web sellers have a high approval rate, it is possible that the feedback is inflated.

Social pressure encourages us to leave high scores in public forums. If you have experienced an Uber driver saying at the end of a trip, “You give me five stars, I’ll give you five stars, ” that’s tit for tat or grade inflation in action. I know I’m reluctant to give a driver a rating lower than four stars even if I have sat white-knuckled during the ride as he whizzed through lights and cut corners. Drivers risk being kicked off the Uber platform if their ratings dip below 4.6 and I don’t want to be responsible for them losing, in some instances, their livelihood. Maybe they are just having a bad day. That, and the driver knows where I live. In other words, reviews spring from a complex web of fear and hope. Whether we are using our real name or a pseudonym, we fear retaliation and also hope our niceties will be reciprocated.

Despite the “inflation,” sellers and buyers are quite happy with their illegal marketplace.  It takes the place of the street dealer and there is a chain of accountability in online discussion forums.  The risk factor is also taken out.  It is a lot safer to have drugs delivered to a mailbox than meeting someone in a dark alley.

The Dark Web marketplace is a white collar retail experience, except the products sold, are illegal.  At least they offer discounts on multiple purchases and fewer stabbings.

Whitney Grace, February 27, 2018

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