Google Exits Robots or Replicants

November 15, 2018

Remember Google’s Boston Dynamics unit. That was the outfit with the robot reindeer. Perfect for pre school parties. I learned today that the ever frisky Andy Rubin’s last non humanoid fling has turned off the lights. The news appeared in “Google Shuts Down Bipedal Robot Team Schaft.”

This outfit was Schaft. It too made child friendly robots like this one:


Google now wants to create non humanoid robots. The decision means that robot rentals for children’s parties will not contribute to the company’s 2019 revenue.


“Hello, kids, let’s party,” says the Google Schaft thing.

If the party needs a bit of life, Schaft things can play hide and seek in the field near the pre school. That sounds like a good idea. Here’s Schaft approaching a three year old child cowering in a field behind a clump of grass.


High school science club thinking may be maturing. Think of those disappointed pre schoolers.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2018

Wal-Mart: Responding to the Bezos Brigade

November 15, 2018

It’s retail conflict.

Wal-Mart likes to be on top. Wal-Mart’s sales, however, have fallen due to Amazon and other online retailers, but they will not go down without a fight. Wal-Mart has decided to fight digital sales with a bigger, better digital supply chain super structure. The Motley Fool reports on Wal-Mart’s biggest investment in, “IBM And Microsoft Are Upgrading Wal-Mart’s Digital Supply Chain.”

Wal-Mart has teamed up with Microsoft and IBM to revamp its supply chain. (What no Amazon in the mix?) Azure is the official cloud infrastructure of Wal-Mart with an exclusive five year contract. All of the retailer’s Web sites will now run natively on Azure and taking advantage of Microsoft’s machine learning and data management tools. Azure’s insightful tools will also streamline Wal-Mart’s supply chain, watch energy levels, and control devices.

Wal-Mart allegedly uses IBM’s blockchain technology to monitor product origins and IBM also built an onboard system for suppliers. How does the new supply chain help Wal-Mart:

“The modernization of Wal-Mart’s supply chain with cloud, IoT, and blockchain services could improve the retailer’s operating margin, which has been weighed down by e-commerce and overseas investments, store renovations, and wage hikes in recent years. That digital foundation can also pave the way for Wal-Mart to install more robots in its warehouses and stores, thereby reducing its overall labor costs. A streamlined supply chain would also help Wal-Mart avoid food safety problems, which are becoming increasingly common across supply chains and multiple countries and states.”

The new system will also help the just-folks store regain some of the losses from its China suppliers due to President Trump’s MAGA activities.

The team up between Wal-Mart, IBM, and Microsoft is a joint effort to counter Amazon-their common enemy—The Bezos brigade. Long shot for sure.

Whitney Grace, November 15, 2018

Oracle Takes One on Nose

November 15, 2018

I read “Oracle Loses Protest of Pentagon Cloud Bid Seen Favoring Amazon.” Oracle, like IBM, wanted a big, hefty chunk of the JEDI contract. Who wouldn’t? According to the real news outfit ThomsonReuters:

The GAO decision issued Wednesday [November 14, 2018] deals a blow to Oracle’s push to expand its federal defense contracts, leaving the tech company with fewer options to improve its chances of winning the award. It also frees the Pentagon to pursue the single-source solution it has opted for all along.

Amazon’s decision to plunk a big office in the middle of bucolic Crystal City and environs suggests that Amazon wants to be close to the corridors of unaudited spending.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, we think Amazon gets a deal from Virginia and this modest decision about the sole source award for JEDI.

Perhaps Oracle should buy MarkLogic and embrace the XML thing. In parallel, Oracle could also pump more dough into Endeca or TripleHop?

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2018

Google Struggles with Indexing?

November 14, 2018

You probably know that Google traffic was routed to China. The culprit was something obvious. In this case, Nigeria. Yep, Nigeria. You can read about the mistake that provided some interesting bits and bytes to the Middle Kingdom. Yeah, I know. Nigeria. “A Nigerian Company Is in Trouble with Google for Re-Routing Traffic to Russia, China” provides some allegedly accurate information.

But the major news I noted here in Harrod’s Creek concerned Google News and its indexing. Your experience may be different from mine, but Google indexing can be interesting. I was looking for an outfit identified as Inovatio, which is a university anchored outfit in China. The reference to Inovatio in Google aimed me at a rock band and a design company in Slovenia. Google’s smart search system changed Inovatio to innovation even when I used quote marks. I did locate the Inovatio operation using a Chinese search engine. I was able to track which listed Inovatio and provided the university affiliation to allow me to get some info about an outfit providing surveillance and intercept services to countries in need of this capability.

Google. Indexing. Yeah.

Google News Publishers Complaining About Indexing Issues” highlights another issue with the beloved Google. I learned:

In the past few days there has been an uptick in complaints from Google News publishers around Google not indexing their new news content. Gary Illyes from Google did a rare appearance on Twitter to say he passed along the feedback to the Google News team to investigate. You can scan through the Google News Help forums and see a nice number of complaints. Also David Esteve, the SEO at the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, posted his concerns on Twitter.

The good news is that the write up mentions that this indexing glitch is a known issue.

Net net: Many people with whom I speak believe that Google’s index is comprehensive, timely, and consistent.

Yeah, also smart because Inovatio is really innovation.

Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2018

Oracle: Grousing about Amazon and Wrestling with Revenue Alligators

November 14, 2018

One of my erstwhile fans sent me a link to a video allegedly revealing Larry Ellison’s deep disappointment with Amazon. Yep, Amazon, an online store with a bundle of database systems. You can view the video here.

News is news. But It seems that some time has passed since Oracle rolled out major technology announcements. What’s happened to Endeca by the way? Seeking Alpha’s “The Reason(s) Why Oracle’s Growth Story Is Crumbling” is semi news, and the write up raises the question, “What is happening with Oracle?”

Oracle’s quarterly earnings are down and the company’s growth is shrinking faster than the polar ice caps. Oracle might have made a mistake combining its cloud business together with its on-premise business. This move led to Oracle’s stock worth dropping:

“Several SA contributors have provided their take on those earnings, though, in my view, this piece by Shock Exchange puts it quite succinctly: Oracle’s cloud growth may have peaked. Indeed, Oracle’s Fiscal Q4 2018 cloud revenue of $1.57B was $200M below the Wall Street consensus, while 31% growth paled in comparison to SAP’s (SAP) 40% and Microsoft’s (MSFT) 53% for the same segment. For perspective, Oracle’s cloud revenue growth was 66% just a year ago.”

Despite the poor returns this year, Oracle stock is only a little off from its highest point, so the company is surfing along. Perhaps Amazon is a rallying point for the Oracle faithful?

Whitney Grace, November 14, 2018

Factualities for November 14, 2018

November 14, 2018

Believe ‘em or not. I am not the least suspicious of round numbers.

  • 50 percent. Percent of WhatsApp users who do not know that Facebook owns the messaging application. Source: The Next Web
  • $100 million amount PwC (a consulting firm) will spend on training employees who are self starters. Source: Techcrunch
  • Less than one second. Time required to destroy a low end drone with a 50 kilowatt laser. (Your PowerPoint laser will be less than five milliwatts.) Source: Gizmodo
  • One. Rank of the US in economic competitiveness. Source: Next Big Future
  • Three years. How long an Apple iPhone will last. Source: Cult of Mac
  • Six percent. Growth in global Internet access growth, which was down from 19 percent in 2017. Source: Technology Review

Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2018

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

Quantum Computing for Your Office?

November 13, 2018

I read “Inside IBM’s Zurich Lab, Where Scientists are Banking on Being the First to Crack the Quantum Code.” The write up is okay as descriptions of the next big thing in computers go. Quantum computing will, so the assertion flows, will render existing crypto security methods obsolete.

That is indeed true. The issue is when. One conference organizers told me a coupled of months ago, “I’m all in on quantum computing.” When one considers that this individual offers training to law enforcement and security personnel, it may be a while before the technology becomes available and in a form factor that fits into an office setting.

The most interesting part of the article is that it provides some insight into the physical structure of the IBM quantum computer. Here’s a snap of part of the gizmo from the write up:


Can you see this parked next to the vending machines?

Not shown in the picture are the cooling units which emit constant clamoring, whirring noise.

The hardware required for the IBM Q Experience is formidable.

As pointed out:

It would be tempting to conclude from all this that the basic problems are solved in principle and the path to a future of ubiquitous quantum computing is now just a matter of engineering. But that would be a mistake. The fundamental physics of quantum computing is far from solved and can’t be readily disentangled from its implementation.

It will be a few years before quantum computing finds its way to Harrod’s Creek. But hyperbole travels faster and farther.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2018

DarkCyber for November 13, 2018, Now Available: Amazon Part Three, Simplifying Intelligence Analysis

November 13, 2018

DarkCyber for November 13, 2018, is now available at and on Vimeo at Amazon Policeware, Part 3. DarkCyber explains how Amazon has solved most of the problems associated with machine learning centric intelligence analysis and sense making systems.

Amazon’s approach to policeware pivots on ease of use and ready to use data.
Instead of programming a system and then undertaking expensive set up tasks, Amazon’s approach is the equivalent of heating a meal in a microwave. The time and convenience changes the landscape for advanced content processing and analytics.

With pre-curated data sets, templates, and familiar Amazon interfaces—law enforcement, military, and intelligence professionals can move from task to output in a day from weeks to months with traditional vendors’ systems. Stephen E Arnold, author of CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access, said: “The benefit of the Amazon approach is low cost and quicker implementation. Instead of reinventing the wheel for each case or mission, the Amazon approach is repeatable,” which slashes training, configuring, and tuning work associated with policeware systems.”

Decades ago, IBM used mainframes and their proprietary hardware and software to create a barrier to change for government agencies using the systems. Amazon’s approach is to provide a platform which makes use of open source software to allow the US government to make necessary changes to software.

Amazon also offers value added functionality ranging from hardware like the DeepLens smart surveillance devices to patented analytics for real time cross correlation of data. Government agencies using these proprietary components will find themselves dependent on Amazon despite the support for open source software.
Existing vendors have business models built on time and materials billing for each use of their systems. Amazon has changed the game to emphasize quick and easy deployment at a lower cost for greater flexibility and performance.

Watch for the final segment of this four part series. The video will be released on November 20, 2018

Digital Reasoning: From Intelligence Centric Text Retrieval to Wealth Management

November 12, 2018

Vendors of text processing systems have had to find new ways to generate revenue. The early days of entity extraction and social graphs provided customers from the US government and specialized companies like Booz, Allen & Hamilton.

Today, different economic realities have forced change.

The capitalist tool published “Digital Reasoning Brings AI To Wealth Management.” The write up does little to put Digital Reasoning in context. The company was founded in 2000. The firm accepted outside financing which now amounts to about $100 million. The firm became cozy with IBM, labored in the vineyards of the star crossed Distributed Common Ground System, and then faced a fire storm of competition from companies big and small. The reason? Entity extraction and link analysis became commodities. The fancy math also migrated into a wide range of applications.

New buzzwords appeared and gained currency. These ranged from artificial intelligence (who knows that that phrase means?) to real time data analytics (Yeah, what is “real time”?).

Digital Reasoning’s response is interesting. The company, like Attivio and Coveo, has nosed into customer support. But the intriguing play is that the Digital Reasoning system, which was text centric, is now packaging its system to help wealth management firms.

Is this text based?

Sure is. I learned:

For advisors, Digital Reasoning helps them prioritize which customers to focus on, which can be useful when an adviser may have 200 or more clients. At the management level, Digital Reasoning can show if the firm has specific advisors getting a lot of complaints so it can respond with training and intervention. At a strategic level, it can sift through communications and identify if customers are looking for a specific offering or type of product.

Interesting approach.

The challenge, of course, will be to differentiate Digital Reasoning’s system from those available from dozens of vendors.

Digital Reasoning has investors who want a return on their $100 million. After 18 years, time may be compressing as once solutions once perceived as sophisticated become more widely available and subject to price pressure.

Rumors of Amazon’s interest in this “wealth management” sector have reached us in Harrod’s Creek. That might be another reason why the low profile Digital Reasoning is stirring the PR waters using the capitalist’s tool, Forbes Magazine, once a source of “real” news.

Stephen E Arnold, November 12, 2018

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