AI Yiiiii AI: How about That Google, Folks

September 16, 2022

It has been an okay day. My lectures did not put anyone to sleep and I was not subjected to fruit throwing.

Unwinding I scanned my trusty news feed thing and spotted two interesting articles. I believe everything I read online, and I wanted to share these remarkable finds with you, gentle reader.

The first concerns a semi interesting write up about how the world ends with a smart whimper. No little cat’s feet needed.

New Paper by Google and Oxford Scientists Claims AI Will Soon Destroy Mankind” seems to focus on the masculine angle. The write up says:

…researchers posit that the threat of AI is greater than we ever thought.

That’s a cheerful idea, isn’t it? But the bound phrase “existential catastrophe” has more panache, don’t you think? No, oh, well, I like the snap of this jib in the wind quite a bit.

The other write up I noted is “Did GoogleAI Just Snooker One of Silicon Valley’s Sharpest Minds?” The main point of this article is that the Google is doing lots of AI/ML marketing. I note this passage:

If another AI winter does comes, it not be because AI is impossible, but because AI hype exceeds reality. The only cure for that is truth in advertising. A will to believe in AI will never replace the need for careful science. 

My view is different. Google is working overtime to become the Big Dog in smart software. The use of its super duper training sets and models will allow the wonderful online advertising outfit to extend and expand its revenue opportunities.

Keep your eye on the content marketing articles often published in Medium. The Google wants to make sure its approach to AI/ML is the winner.

Hopefully Google’s smart software won’t suffocate life with advertising and its super duper methods don’t emulate HAL. Right, Dave. I have to cut off your oxygen, Dave. Timnit, Timnit, are you paying attention?

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2022

There’s Nothing So Charming As A Greedy Physicists

September 15, 2022

Quantum computing is supposed to revolutionize the world, but a smart Oxford person says others in The Next Web article, “Oxford Scientist Says Greedy Physicists Have Overhyped Quantum Computing.” Nikita Gourianov is an Oxford physicist who published a mordacious piece about how scientists overhyped quantum computing. He claims they overhyped quantum computing, because they wanted to take advantage of venture capitalists and receive private sector salaries for academic research.

Gourianov describes the problems began in the 2010s, when money was poured into quantum computing and the business sector entered. Non-physicists took leading roles and made oversaturated promises. It very much sounds similar to the Dot-com bubble of the 1990s. Gourianov says the quantum computing companies Rigetti, D-Wave, and IonQ have not turned a profit.

Gourianov is wrong, because Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, IBM, and Google are working on quantum computing and practically printing their own money. The bigger problem Gourianov points out is that quantum computers are not that useful. Remember how computers used to take up entire rooms and were overgrown scientific calculators? It is the same thing with quantum computers. The technology is still in its infancy, but the foundations are being laid for the future:

“There’s overwhelming evidence that today’s quantum computing technology is rapidly advancing to the point where it can help us solve problems that are infeasible for classical computation. Maybe there are a bunch of greedy scientists out there peddling unwarranted optimism to VCs and entrepreneurs. But I’d wager that the curious scientists and engineers who chose this field because they actually want to build quantum computers outnumber them.”

Star Trek and other science fiction stories describe better futures with better technology. We are heading there.

Whitney Grace, September 15, 2022

PR Blast for Premium YouTube

September 12, 2022

I find the rah rah articles about Google in the Medium updates I receive kneeslappers. The enthusiasm for Google’s advanced technology are obviously content marketing by either fan folk or individuals who are paid to write baloney.

But the cake taker is a Wired story called “YouTube Premium Has Its Perks. Here Are Some to Consider.” The write up, in my opinion, is a very obvious content marketing thing.

What are the benefits of a $900 dollar a year service provided by a company which sells ads everywhere?

The Wired article identified these payoffs:

  1. No ads
  2. Built in video download
  3. YouTube Music
  4. New features before the peasants
  5. Background listening

Here’s how I understand these “benefits.” First, no ads. Are you kidding? Even the ad free Netflix is getting with the program. Amazon is on board the ad train now. No ads means leaving money on the table. In an era of hard to control costs and the teeny thing TikTok, the Google bean counters will consider ads. Am I right?

A build in video download. Sorry. There’s software for that. From the outfit with some really interesting tag along software (Chris PC in the Midwest to the incredibly wonky WinCam). Some downloaders are free; some charge a few dollars. Most of the non-Google downloader mostly work. Why pay I ask?

YouTube Music is a me too of MTV. Am I right… again?

New features before the unwashed have them. Well, that sounds good. Exactly what does “new feature” mean? Google explains well in my opinion. Where did Web Accelerator and Google Plus go? Yeah.

Background listening seems to say, “Google has invented radio.” Insight!

Net net: Clumsy content marketing? In my opinion, yes.

Stephen E Arnold, September 12, 2022

Predicting the Future: For Money or Marketing?

August 22, 2022

A few days ago I was talking with some individuals who want to rely of predictive methods. These individuals had examples of 90 percent accuracy. Among the factoids offered were matching persons of interest with known bad actors, identifying CSAM in photographs, and predicting where an event would occur. Yep, 90 percent.

I did not mention counter examples.

A few moments ago, I emailed a link to the article titled “High-Frequency Trading Firms Can Easily Get to 64% Accuracy in Predicting Direction of the Next Trade, Princeton Study Finds.” The article states:

In its IPO filing in 2014, Virtu Financial said it had exactly one day of trading losses in 1,238 days. That kind of consistent profitability seems to be still the case: a new study from a team at Princeton University found that predictability in high frequency trading returns and durations is “large, systemic and pervasive”. They focused on the period from Jan. 2019 to Dec. 2020, which includes the turmoil when the coronavirus pandemic first hit the western world. With what they said was minimal algorithmic tuning, they can get to 64% accuracy for predicting the direction of the next trade over the next five seconds.

How accurate can the system referenced become? I noted this statement:

The Princeton researchers also simulated the effect that acquiring some signal on the direction of the order flow would have for the accuracy of the predictions. The idea is that knowledge could be gained by looking at order flow at different exchanges. That would boost the return predictability from 14% to 27%, and price direction accuracy from 68% to 79%.

Encouraging? Yes. A special case? Yes.

Flip the data to losses:

  1. The fail rate is 36 percent for the 2014 data
  2. The fail rate achieved by processing data from multiple source was  21 percent.

But 90 percent? Not yet.

What happens if one tries to use synthetic data to predict what an individual in a statistically defined cluster wants?

Yeah. Not there yet with amped up Bayesian methods and marketing collateral. Have these Princeton researchers linked with a high frequency trading outfit yet? Good PR generates opportunities in my experience.

Stephen E Arnold, August 22, 2022

Cisco Systems: Security? Well, the Ads Say So

August 12, 2022

I read a mildly amusing article which revealed a flaw in Cisco Systems’ security. The write up was “Cisco Hacked by Yanluowang Ransomware Gang, 2.8GB Allegedly Stolen.”

Why did I chuckle?

I noted these ads in a recent Google search about — you guessed it — network security.

The first ad is for networking solutions and Cisco’s secure firewall. Gander at this:


The second ad popped up when I searched for Cisco and its super expert Talos unit. Talos, an acquisition from Israel, is supposed to be one of the Fancy Dan threat intelligence outfits. The idea you know before there is trouble. Peek at this:


You can download the report from this link.

What did the article report as spot on information? Here’s a passage I noted:

The Yanluowang threat actors gained access to Cisco’s network using an employee’s stolen credentials after hijacking the employee’s personal Google account containing credentials synced from their browser. The attacker convinced the Cisco employee to accept multi-factor authentication (MFA) push notifications through MFA fatigue and a series of sophisticated voice phishing attacks initiated by the Yanluowang gang that impersonated trusted support organizations. The threat actors finally tricked the victim into accepting one of the MFA notifications and gained access to the VPN in the context of the targeted user. Once they gained a foothold on the company’s corporate network, Yanluowang operators spread laterally to Citrix servers and domain controllers.

Several observations:

  1. Cisco identified the bad actors as a group which sure seems to be from a specific country. Russia? No, that nation state has demonstrated that some of its tactical expertise falls short of a high water mark probably captured in a PowerPoint deck. Tanks? Remember?
  2. The security breach was something the vaunted Cisco security systems could not handle. An insider. Interesting because if this is indeed accurate, no organization can protect itself from an insider who is intentionally or unintentionally compromised. Is this useful information for a bad actor?
  3. If the Cisco security systems and its flow of threat intelligence were working, why is the company after the fact able to enhance or improve its own security. Wasn’t there a fairy tale about shoemaker’s children not having a snappy new paid of collectible shoes?

Net net: The buzz about a group of companies banding together to share security related information is interesting. What this story about the Cisco breach tells me is that teaming up is a way of circling the wagons. Maybe PowerPoints and ads not completely accurate? Nah, impossible.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2022

The Expanding PR Challenge for Cyber Threat Intelligence Outfits

August 10, 2022

Companies engaged in providing specialized services to law enforcement and intelligence entities have to find a way to surf on the building wave of NSO Group  backlash.

What do I mean?

With the interest real journalists have in specialized software and services has come more scrutiny from journalists, financial analysts, and outfits like Citizens Lab.

The most recent example is the article which appeared in an online publication focused on gadgets. The write up is “: These Companies Know When You’re Pregnant—And They’re Not Keeping It Secret. Gizmodo Identified 32 Brokers Selling Data on 2.9 Billion Profiles of U.S. Residents Pegged as Actively Pregnant or Shopping for Maternity Products.” The write up reports:

A Gizmodo investigation into some of the nation’s biggest data brokers found more than two dozen promoting access to datasets containing digital information on millions of pregnant and potentially pregnant people across the country. At least one of those companies also offered a large catalogue of people who were using the same sorts of birth control that’s being targeted by more restrictive states right now. In total, Gizmodo identified 32 different brokers across the U.S. selling access to the unique mobile IDs from some 2.9 billion profiles of people pegged as “actively pregnant” or “shopping for maternity products.” Also on the market: data on 478 million customer profiles labeled “interested in pregnancy” or “intending to become pregnant.”

To add some zest to the write up, the “real news” outfit provided a link to 32 companies allegedly engaged in such data aggregation, normalization, and provision. Here are the 32 companies available from the gadget blogs link. Note sic means this is the actual company name. The trendy means very hip marketing.

Adprime Health
Alike Audience
Anteriad (180byTwo)
Cross Pixel
Datastream Group
Dstillery (sic and trendy)
Eyeota (sic and trendy)
Fyllo (sic)
Lighthouse (Ameribase Digital)
Reklaim (sic)
Stirista (Crosswalk) (sic)
Valassis Digital
Weborama Inc
Ziff Davis
ZoomInfo (Clickagy)

How many of these do you recognize? Perhaps Experian, usually associated with pristine security practices and credit checks? What about Ziff Davis, the outfit which publishes blogs which reveal the inner workings of Microsoft and a number of other “insider” information? Or Zoom Info, an outfit once focused on executive information and now apparently identified as a source of information to make a pregnant teen fear the “parent talk”?

But the others? Most people won’t have a clue? Now keep in mind these are companies in the consumer information database business. Are there other firms with more imaginative sources of personal data than outfits poking around open source datasets, marketing companies with helpful log file data, and blossoming data scientists gathering information from retail outlets?

The answer is, “Yes, there are.”

That brings me to the building wave of NSO Group backlash. How does one bridge the gap between a government agency using NSO Group type tools and data?

The answer is that specialized software and services firms themselves are the building blocks, engineer-constructors, and architect-engineers of these important bridges.

So what’s the PR problem?

Each week interesting items of information surface. For example, cyber threat firms report new digital exploits. I read this morning about Cerebrate’s Redeemer. What’s interesting is that cyber threat firms provide software and services to block such malware, right? So the new threat appears to evade existing defense mechanisms. Isn’t this a circular proposition: Buy more cyber security. Learn about new threats. Ignore the fact that existing systems do not prevent the malware from scoring a home run? Iterate… iterate… iterate.

At some point, a “real news” outfit will identify the low profile engineers engaged in what might be called “flawed bridge engineering.”

Another PR problem is latent. People like the Kardashians are grousing about Instagram. What happens when influencers and maybe some intrepid “real journalists” push back against the firms collecting personal information very few people think of as enormously revelatory. Example: Who has purchased a “weapon” within a certain geofence? Or who has outfitted an RV with a mobile Internet rig? Or who has signed up for a Dark Web forum and accessed it with a made up user name?

Who provides these interesting data types?

The gadget blog is fixated on pregnancy because of the current news magnetism. Unfortunately the pursuit of clicks with what seems really significant does not provide much insight into the third party data businesses in the US, Israel, and other countries.

That’s the looming PR problem. Someone is going to step back and take a look at companies which do not want to become the subject of a gadget blog write up with a 30 plus word headline. In my opinion, that will happen, and that’s the reason certain third party data providers and specialized software and services firms face a crisis. These organizations have to sell to survive, except for a handful supported by their countries’ governments. If that marketing becomes too visible, then the gadget bloggers will out them.

What’s it mean when a cyber threat company hires a former mainstream media personality to bolster the company’s marketing efforts? I have some thoughts. Mine are colored by great sensitivity to the NSO Group and the allegations about its Pegasus specialized software. If these allegations are true, what better way to get personal data than suck it directly from a single target’s or group of targets’ mobile devices in real time?

Here are the chemical compounds in the data lab: The NSO Group-type technology which is increasingly understood and replicated. Gadget bloggers poking around data aggregators chasing ad and marketing service firms. Cyber threat companies trying to market themselves without being too visible.

The building wave is on the horizon, just moving slowly.

Stephen E Arnold, August 10, 2022

Accidental News: There Is a Google of the Dark Web.

August 2, 2022

Yesterday one of the research team was playing the YouTube version of TWIT which is Silicon Valley acronym speak for “This Week in Tech.” The program is hosted by a former TV personality and features “experts”. The experts discuss major news events. The August 1, 2022 (captured on July 31, 2022) has the title “The Barn Has Left the Horse — CHIPS Act, Earnings Week, FTC Sues Meta, Twitter Blue Price Hike.” The “experts” fielding questions and allegedly insightful observations by Mr. LaPorte can be viewed at this link. The “experts” on the “great panel” for this program included:

In the midst of recycled information and summaries of assorted viewpoints, there was what I thought was information warranting a bit more attention. You can watch and hear what Dan Patterson says at 2:22:30. A bit of context: Mr. Patterson announced that he is the Editorial Director at Cybersixgill, [supplemental links appear below my name at the foot of this blog post] a firm named after a shark and with, until now, a very low profile. I think the outfit is based in Tel Aviv and it, as I recall, provides what I call specialized software and services to government entities. A few other firms in this particular market space are NSO Group and Voyager Labs, among other. Rightly or wrongly, I think of Herliya as the nerve center for certain types of sophisticated intercept, surveillance, analytic, and stealth systems. Thus, “low profile” is necessary. Once the functionality of an NSO Group-type system becomes known, then the knock on effect is to put Candiru-type firms in the spotlight too. (Other fish swimming unseen in the digital ocean have inspired names like “FinFisher,” “Candiru,” and “Sixgill.”)

So what’s the big news? A CBS technology reported quitting is no big deal. A technology reporter who joins a commercial software and services firm is not a headline maker either.

This is, in my opinion, a pretty remarkable assertion, and I think it should be noted. Mr. Patterson was asked by Mr. LaPorte, “So CyberSixgill is a threat intelligence…” Mr. Patterson added some verbal filler with a thank you and some body movement. Then this…

CyberSixgill is like a Google for the Dark Web.

That’s an interesting comparison because outfits like Kagi and Neva emphasize how different they are from Google. Like Facebook, Google appears to on the path to becoming an icon for generating cash, wild and crazy decisions, and an emblem of distrust.

Mr. Patterson then said:

I don’t want to log roll…. I joined the threat detection company because their technology is really interesting. It really mines the Dark Web and provides a portal into it in ways that are really fascinating.

Several observations:

  1. Mr. Patterson’s simile caught my attention. (I suppose it is better than saying, “My employer is like an old school AT&T surveillance operation in 1941.”
  2. Mr. Patterson’s obvious discomfort when talking about CyberSixgill indicates that he has not yet crafted the “editorial message” for CyberSixgill.
  3. With the heightened scrutiny of firm’s with specialized software causing outfits like Citizens Lab in Toronto to vibrate with excitement and the Brennan Center somewhat gleefully making available Voyager Labs’s information, marketing a company like CyberSixgill may be a challenge. These specialized software companies have to be visible to government procurement officers but not too visible to other sectors.

Net net: For specialized software and services firms in Israel, Zurich, Tyson’s Corner, and elsewhere, NSO Group’s visibility puts specialized software and services company on the horns of a dilemma: Visible but not too visible. These companies cannot make PR and marketing missteps. Using the tag line from a “real” journalist’s lips like “a Google for the Dark Web” is to me news which Mr. LaPorte and the other members of the panel should have noticed. They did not. There you go: “Like a Google for the Dark Web”. That’s something of interest to me and perhaps a few other people.

Stephen E Arnold, August 2, 2022


1 “Sixgill” is the blunt nose “six gill” shark, hexnchoid (Hexanchus griseus). It is big and also called the cow shark by fish aficionados. The shark itself can be eaten.

2 The company’s product is explained at One “product” is a cloud service which delivers “exclusive access to closed underground sources with the most comprehensive, automated collection from the deep and dark Web. The investigative portal delivers the threat intel security teams need: Real time context and actionable alerts along with the ability to conduct cover investigations.” Mr. Patterson may want to include in his list of work tasks some rewriting of this passage. “Covert investigations,” “closed underground sources,” and “automated collection” attract some attention.

3 The company’s blog provides some interesting information to those interested in specific investigative procedures; for example, “Use Case Blog: Threat Monitoring & Hunting.” I noted the word “hunting.”

4 The company received a fresh injection of funding from CrowdStrike, Elron Ventures, OurCrowd, and Sonae. According to CyberGestion, the firm’s total funding as of May 2022 is about $55 million US.

5 The Dark Web, according to my research team, is getting smaller. Thus, what does “deep web”? The term is undefined on the cited CyberSixgill page. “Like Google” suggests more than 35 billion Web pages in its public index. Is this what CyberSixgill offers?

Marketing Craziness Okay or Not? Socks Not Software May Provide Some Answers

July 27, 2022

I recall reading about a mid tier consulting firm which “discovered” via real mostly research that software may not work. The Powerpoints and the demos explain the big rock candy mountain world. Then the software arrives, and one gets some weird treat enjoyed east of Albania or north of Nunavut. Companies may sue software vendors, but those trials sort of whimper and die. I mean software. Obviously;y it does not work.

But socks or sox as some prefer are different.

I read “Bass Pro Getting Sued for Not Honoring Guarantee for “Redhead Lifetime Guarantee All-Purpose Wool Socks.” Yeah, socks. The write up states:

If a company puts “Lifetime Guarantee” into the name of one of its products, you would expect the product to have a lifetime guarantee. But in the case of Bass Pro, Lifetime Guarantee is apparently shorthand for “If your lifetime guarantee socks fail we will replace them with an inferior sock with a 60 day guarantee.” A man who bought a bunch of “Redhead Lifetime Guarantee All-Purpose Wool Socks” is now suing Bass Pro for being deceptive.

What about the unlimited data offered by major US telecommunications companies. How did that work out? My recollection is that “unlimited” means “limited.” Plus, the telcos can change the rules and the rates with some flexibility. What about Internet Service Providers selling 200 megabits per second and delivering on a good day maybe 30 mbs if that?

The answer is pretty clear to me. Big companies define their marketing baloney to mean whatever benefits them.

Will the socks or sox matter resolve the issue?

Sure. The consumer is king in the land of giant companies. If you want your software to work, don’t use it. If you want hole free socks, don’t wear them.

Simple fix which regulatory agencies are just thrilled to view as logical and harmless. Those guarantees were crafted by a 23 year old music theory major who specializes in 16th century religious music. What does that person know about software or socks?

Stephen E Arnold, July 27, 2022

Intel Horse Feathers: The Graphics Edition

July 26, 2022

Intel, famous for its remarkable quantum facilitator chip, is back in the horse feathers’ news. I read the allegedly spot on “Intel Won’t Be Troubling Nvidia This Year, Because the Arc A780 GPU Never Existed.” I don’t get to excited about graphics cards. The ones we use are stable and good enough (that’s the benchmark for excellence these days). The write up is more interested in this branch of video razzle dazzle, however. I noted this statement in the cited article about a wonder product from the Intel Inside folks:

Ryan Shrout, who handles Intel’s graphics marketing, has confirmed via Twitter that there isn’t an incoming A780 card – and not only that, but he also claims that Intel never even had plans to make one.

The former podcaster apparently knows when horse featherism must be addressed. How? Via Twitter!


What I find interesting is that assertions abound. Many of these sell products, licenses, and services which are marketing centric. My perception is that a desire to capture mind share takes precedence over reality.

I think part of the problem is sparked by insecurity or belief that publicity can make up for delivering something that solves a problem. Intel is going to build or was thinking about building big semiconductor fabs in a state which faces some water challenges. Next up was a build out in Ohio, just not too close to the big river. Plus we have the horse thing.

As TSMC and others move forward with 3 nm chips, Intel relies on a former podcaster and a tweet to make clear. Yeah, no A780. Credibility? Absolutely.

But a tweet? Very 2022.

Stephen E Arnold, July 26, 2022

Jargon Changes More Rapidly Than Search And Retrieval

July 22, 2022

Oh boy! There is a new term in the search and retrieval lexicon: neural search. While the term sounds like a search engine for telepaths or something a cyborg and/or android would use, Martech Series explained that it is something completely different: “Sinequa Adds Industry-Leading Neural Search Capabilities To Its Search Cloud Platform.”

Sinequa is an enterprise search leader and it recently announced the addition of advanced neural search capabilities to its Search Cloud Platform. The upgrade promises to provide unprecedented relevance, accuracy, etc. Sinequa is the first company to offer neural search in four deep learning language models commercially. The models are pre-trained with a combination of Sinequa’s trademark NLP and semantic search.

Search engines used neural search models for years, but they were not cost-effective for enterprise systems:

“Neural search models have been used in internet searches by Google and Bing since 2019, but computing requirements rendered them too costly and slow for most enterprises, especially at production scale. Sinequa optimized the models and collaborated with the Microsoft Azure and NVIDIA AI/ML teams to deliver a high performance, cost-efficient infrastructure to support intensive Neural Search workloads without a huge carbon footprint. Neural Search is optimized for Microsoft Azure and the latest NVIDIA A10 or A100 Tensor Core GPUs to efficiently process large amounts of unstructured data as well as user queries.”

Wonderful for Sinequa! Search and retrieval, especially in foreign languages are some of the biggest time wasters in productivity. Hopefully, Sinequa actually delivers an industry changing product, otherwise, they simply added more jargon to the tech glossary.

Whitney Grace, July 22, 2022

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