Quote to Note: Technology Bummer

February 17, 2017

I was surfing through Canada’s online newspapers to see what’s hot and what’s not in the world center for artificial intelligence. (Yes, I believe the Industry Canada PR about Google and Microsoft setting up smart software shops in a land where some of my relatives live.)

I read  this uplifting article: “A Flare for Self-Destruction: How Technology Is the Means, Not the Cause, of Our Demise.”

Here’s the quote I noted:

Technologies are just the enabling routes to self-destruction, not the cause.

The write up includes some comments about the cloud, offering this insight to letting other people handle one’s data:

Many computer users go along with this [cloud]  promise, because cloud storage is cheap, convenient and seemingly infinite. But this means that the company has access to our confidential information. Moreover, there is no guarantee that it will keep its side of the deal. It may get taken over, or it may go bankrupt. Moreover, if we stop our payments – or, for that matter, die – the company may render our data inaccessible, or even delete it. Perhaps “cloud computing” should be renamed “cloud-cuckoo computing.”

Let me point out that the newspaper is not pushing negativism. The article is a book review of Peter Townsend’s The Dark Side of Technology. Sounds like a fun read. Tip: Read Jacques Ellul’s Technological Bluff. It’s a spirit lifter too.

St4ephen E Arnold, February 17, 2017

Quote to Note: Google Glass Not Working Very Well

January 28, 2017

Here’s a quote to note. I have zero idea if the wizard Sergey Brin actually said what “Google Co Founder Sergey Brin: I Didn’t See AI Coming” said. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google and one of the most successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, says he did not foresee the artificial intelligence revolution that has transformed the tech industry. “I didn’t pay attention to it at all, to be perfectly honest,” he said in a session at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. “Having been trained as a computer scientist in the 90s, everybody knew that AI didn’t work. People tried it, they tried neural nets and none of it worked.”

I liked this statement as well:

“What can these things do? We don’t really know the limits,” said Brin. “It has incredible possibilities. I think it’s impossible to forecast accurately.”

I thought Google owned a stake in Recorded Future, an outfit which specializes in predictive analytics. So Google’s fancy math, its own engineering wizards, its economists, and its own promising investments provided no alerts, insights, or prognostications?

Or, and this is interesting, did Mr. Brin, the champion of Google Glass, see through them darkly?

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2017

Quote to Note: Forget Mobile. It Is Now Artificial Intelligence

December 2, 2016

I stumbled upon an interesting quote which I found noteworthy. Here’s the statement:

We have moved from a mobile first to an AI first world.

The statement appeared in “IT Life: Victor Lamburt, CTO Yandex Zen.” The write up references Yandex’s effort to expand its international business. The Zen project is a personalized news feed.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2016

Is IBM Watson Like Microsoft Windows and Google Android? What? Huh?

November 16, 2016

Short honk. As we approach the end of 2016, I am paying attention to the prognostications for the future. I noted a stunner which I want to highlight. The source is Data Science Central’s “What Can Modern Watson Do?” (This is a heck of a question by the way. I will comment about the article in more detail next week.) For today, I want to present this statement from a mid tier consulting firm’s guru wizard savant human. Here’s the statement made in reference to IBM Watson:

David Schubmehl, an analyst at IDC compares IBMs new playbook in AI with Microsoft’s Windows in personal computing and Google’s Android OS in mobile. “IBM is trying to do the same thing with Watson,” he said, “open up a platform, make it available for others, and democratize the technology.”

Dave Schubmehl, IDC, allegedly compared IBM’s “playbook” to Microsoft Windows in personal computing and Google Android’s operating system in mobile. The hedge is the word “trying.” Yep, trying includes paying mid tier consultants to toot the Watson tuba. The premise strikes me as something a day worker in Harrod’s Creek might say; for example, the democratization of technology makes IBM Watson’s future great, maybe huge, or Number One. Yep, a day worker says this stuff frequently in rural Kentucky.

A couple of observations.

  • A playbook is not what Microsoft Windows or Google Android are. But for the fact that a “playbook” is not widely used software for consumers, the IDC logic warrants the creation of a new word for this type of logical misstep: Schubmehlian. I like that word Schubmehlian.
  • Windows has revenue. Watson does not have Windows-scale global reach, a comparable “brand,” or a subscription revenue model producing real billions every quarter. The lawyers use the phrase “but for” to help explain this type of logic. Watson is great “but for” its lack of scale, brand value, and revenue. The metaphor looks shaky, Mr. Mid Tier Consultant guru.
  • Google Android OS has market reach. The last figure I recall is that Android is the operating system on more than 80 percent of the world’s mobile devices. (The source for this magic number is none other than IDC, the same folks who generate pretty crazy numbers like how much time a professional spends looking for information each day.) Watson is great “but for” its lack of market share.

Yep, those “but fors” can be a problem. However, mid tier consultants are not paid to be right, just to sound right. Tuck this away for future reference. Watson is the new Windows AND the new Google Android OS.

Will the anti trust issues tag along? Not for a while. You can hire IDC and get this type of logic by filling out the form at this link. The result will be — how can I say it? — Schubmehlian.

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2016

Quote to Note: Enterprise Search As a Black Hole

October 19, 2016

Here’s a quote to note from “Slack CEO Describes Holy Grail of Virtual Assistants.” Slack seeks to create smart software capable of correlating information from enterprise applications. Good idea. The write up says:

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has an audacious goal: Turning his messaging and collaboration platform into an uber virtual assistant capable of searching every enterprise application to deliver employees pertinent information.

Got it. Employees cannot locate information needed for their job. Let me sidestep the issue of hiring people incapable of locating information in the first place.

Here’s the quote I noted:

And if Slack succeeds, it could seal the timeless black hole of wasted productivity enterprise search and other tools have failed to close.

I love the “timeless black hole of wasted productivity of enterprise search.” Great stuff, particularly because outfits like Wolters Kluwer continue to oscillate between proprietary search investments like Qwant.com and open source solutions like Lucene/Solr.

Do organizations create these black holes or is software to blame? Information is a slippery fish, which often find “timeless black holes” inhospitable.

Stephen E Arnold, October 19, 2016

Quote to Note: Big Data Governance

August 10, 2016

I read an interview with a wizard from Talend, which I did not know had French roots. The write up is “Interview: Christophe Toum, Talend on Why Big Data Needs Big Governance.” I noted two passages which I found refreshing.

The first address the unpleasant topic of being organized. The code word for this all-too-human characteristic is “governance.” I highlighted this passage:

At Talend we believe Big Data without governance will quickly become a big problem…Big Data needs even more governance.

My view is that more of an annoying administrative, human subject matter intensive investment required, the less governance will be applied. Just a thought based on my experience.

The second comment elicited one exclamation report from my subdued pale blue highlighter:

Controlling who can access and use this data, what data is verified and trusted, by whom and how, is a big deal.

No kidding.

Stephen E Arnold, August 10, 2016

Quote to Note: One Computer Error Can Lead to a Plan. A Plan?

August 8, 2016

I read “Delta’s Massive Computer Outage Is Part of a Much Bigger Problem.” This is an authoritative write up. The newspaper publishing this insight is owned by Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and possibly the world’s smartest man. Here’s the quote I highlighted in hot pink:

Computers and automated systems have increased the efficiency and productivity of businesses in ways that were unimaginable a century, or even decades ago. But whether because of cyber attacks or just plain computer errors, the inter-connectivity built into almost all aspects of our lives means that one problem can quickly cascade into a catastrophe. So companies need to have a plan in place for when something goes wrong.

Yes, a plan. Anyone remember Tandem computers? Next time Amazon goes Wiley Coyote, I will contemplate this parental suggestion.

Stephen E Arnold, August 8, 2016

Quotes to Note: The Thiel-Hulk Matter

May 26, 2016

The downsizing New York Times is channeling the Gawker thing. I read “Tech Billionaire in a Secret War with Gawker.” [Note: You may or may not be able to view this. Speak to the Gray Lady, not me.] The billionaire is Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal and a number of other high profile and wildly successful companies. He is, I learned, a member of the PayPal mafia. Who knew?


I was not sure what a “demigod” was. I turned to Google. The first hit is this illustration apparently from a video game. Who knew?

I am not interested in the news story about a person who wants to fight for truth, justice, and the Silicon Valley way. I am not sure who Hulk Hogan is. That’s okay. The write up contained some quotes to note. I don’t want to lose track of these. I might want to spice up a report or a lecture with these allegedly accurate statements made by a powerful, rich wizard. Here you go:

  1. The story is not a story. It is a “bizarre and astounding back story.” [The New York Times] I once read similar headlines in the IGA store waiting for a human to check out my toothpaste and sparkling water purchases. Who published stories with these words? I think it was the National Enquirer.
  2. “I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations.”—Peter Thiel
  3. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” is the Founders Fund tag line.—The New York Times quoting a Web site.

Great stuff. I wonder how Palantir Technologies, a company founded by Mr. Thiel, who is characterized as having “demigod status”, about the leaks to Buzzfeed. Should that reporter be concerned about legal action? I hope not.

Stephen E Arnold, May 26, 2016

Google Chestnuts: Page as Shakespeare

February 3, 2016

I read “20 Inspirational Larry Page Quotes.” I need to be inspired. A company based on GoTo/Overture “inspiration” is equipped to offer guidance and maybe hope.

Alphabet, the new name for Google which still exists, embraces Loon balloons, the challenge of “solving death,” and the UK tax dust up. Each of these is, in its own way, inspirational.

Here are three quotes which soon may appear on AllPosters.com motivational posters store front.

On Alphabet Google’s work (which includes selling ads): “I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do. As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.”

On anti trust and collusion among competitors regulations: ““Big companies have always needed and cooperated in areas where it made sense.”

On corporate governance and management oversight: “We don’t have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.”

Words to live by.

Stephen E Arnold, February 3, 2016

Quote to Note: Smart Software

December 26, 2015

I read “Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen on Technology in 2016.” The write up recycles the Google ideas which will keep the firm’s revenues pumping along. Tucked into the rah rah for smart software was a quote I circled as particularly interesting. Keep in mind that the statement comes from a firm in the online advertising business with some wild and crazy ideas tossed into its mix of products and services. Here’s the statement:

Those who design AI should establish best practices to avoid undesirable outcomes.

Two questions crossed my mind: What’s “undesirable” and what’s “outcomes”? With folks driving into Google cars and the somewhat interesting “solve death” activities, the comments about the future are interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, December 26, 2015

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