April 27, 2017
The article on TechCrunch titled SirionLabs Establishes US Foothold to Scale Its NLP Contract Management Software frames the rapid growth and expansion of the enterprise vendor management software provider founded in 2012. SirionLabs was founded by CEO Ajay Agrawal, who recognized the large cost of supplier relationship management built into a contract’s value and decided to start a company focused on automating the process, but only partially. The article explains,
The establishment of a U.S. presence represents a strategic shift in the company’s growth plans…While the startup has had offices in the U.K., Germany, Denmark and Singapore, it has been slow to establish a permanent U.S. team…Sirion, the company’s platform, is currently used by companies like BP and Vestas to manage service providers and augment humans that traditionally manage vendor relationships. The startup expects to use natural language processing to analyze more than $8 billion in total contract value over the next year.
In order to mitigate the risk of the enormous number of potential discrepancies in a given contract, Sirion compels both parties to be accountable by agreeing on the outcome. That addendum hasn’t scared off BP, or Seal Software clients such as Deloitte, HP, Experian, and SalesForce.
Chelsea Kerwin, April 27, 2017
April 18, 2017
The United Kingdom has been compared to George Orwell’s 1984 dystopia before, especially in the last two decades with their increasing amount of surveillance technology. Once more UK citizens face privacy invasion reports the Guardian in “UK Public Faces Mass Invasion Of Privacy As Big Data And Surveillance Merge.” The UK’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter expressed his worry that government regulators were unable to keep up with technological advances.
Big data combined with video surveillance, facial recognition technology, and the profuse use of more cameras is making it harder to protect individuals’ privacy. People are being recorded 24/7 and often without their knowledge. Another worry is that police are not being vigilant with private information. One example is that license plate information has not been deleted after the two-year limit.
Porter wants changes to be made in policies and wants people to be aware of the dangers:
Porter’s new strategy, published on Tuesday, points out that an overwhelming majority of people currently support the use of CCTV in public places. But he questions whether this support can continue because of the way surveillance is changing.
‘I’m worried about overt surveillance becoming much more invasive because it is linked to everything else,’ Porter said. ‘You might have a video photograph of somebody shopping in Tesco. Now it is possible to link that person to their pre-movements, their mobile phone records, any sensor detectors within their house or locality. As smart cities move forward, these are challenges are so much greater for people like myself. And members of the public need to decide whether they are still happy with this.’
Porter admitted that advanced surveillance technology had allowed law enforcement to arrest terrorists and track down missing people, but it still can lead to worse privacy invasions. Porter hopes is new three-year strategy will inform authorities about how technology will impact privacy.
The good thing about surveillance technology is how it can track down bad guys, but it can be harmful to innocent citizens. The BBC should run some PSAs about video surveillance and privacy to keep their citizens informed. I suggest they do not make them as scary as this one about electricity.
Whitney Grace, April 18, 2017
April 11, 2017
Instant messaging service provider WhatsApp is in a quandary. While privacy of its users is of utmost importance to them, where do they draw the line if it’s a question of national security?
In an editorial published in The Telegraph titled WhatsApp Accused of Giving Terrorists ‘a Secret Place to Hide’ as It Refuses to Hand over London Attacker’s Messages, the writer says:“The Government was considering legislation to force online firms to take down extremist material, but said it was time for the companies to “recognise that they have a responsibility” to get their own house in order.
Apps like WhatsApp offer end-to-end encryption for messages sent using its network. This makes it impossible (?) for anyone to intercept and read them, even technicians at WhatsApp. On numerous occasions, WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has come under fire for protecting its user privacy. In this particular incident, the London attacker Ajao used WhatsApp to send message to someone. While Soctland Yard wants access to the messages sent by the terrorist, WhatsApp says its hands are tied.
The editorial also says that social media networks are no more tech companies, rather they are turning into publishing companies thus the onus is on them to ensure the radical materials are also removed from their networks. Who ultimately will win the battle remains to be seen, but right now, WhatsApp seems to have the edge.
Vishal Ingole, April 11, 2017
March 30, 2017
The Silicon-Valley-based tech industry has done quite well under the Obama administration, we’re reminded in the Hill’s article, “Tech’s Power Shifts as Obama fades to Trump.” Lobbying efforts by internet companies have escalated over the past eight years, catching up to the traditional telecommunications industry. Writers Ali Breland and David McCabe quote a mysterious source:
‘Everybody is amazed by Google’s sort of cozy relationship with the White House,’ said one communications industry insider who asked to remain anonymous. ‘They don’t even try to hide it.’
Ah, dear Google. What now?
The writers cite Noah Theran, of the Internet Association—a group that represents Google, Twitter, and Amazon—as they emphasize the importance of working closely with government. If policy makers don’t understand what is happening in the tech industry, it will be nigh impossible for them to regulate it sensibly.
To complicate matters, apparently, these upstart internet companies have ruffled the feathers of the old-school telecoms, who seem to believe the FCC and Obama administration unfairly favored their new rivals, Google in particular. The article continues:
The tension wasn’t always present. Silicon Valley at one point had famously dismissed Washington, D.C., assessing that it could be the new capital of change in the U.S. That attitude shifted as the tech industry saw a greater need to work with Washington. A touchstone was the Justice Department antitrust suit against Microsoft. After having to appeal an initial order to break into two separate business, Microsoft quickly learned that it needed to have a Washington, D.C. presence if it wanted to preemptively ease regulatory problems later on. …
Trump’s presidency may change how the battles play out for the next four to eight years, however. Trump has had a rockier relationship with some tech companies, including Apple. He at one point during the campaign suggested a boycott of the company’s products over its encrypted phone.
Hoo boy. Hang on to your hats, technology-supporters; this could be a bumpy ride.
Cynthia Murrell, March 30, 2017
March 24, 2017
Will search-and-discovery firm Diffeo’s recent acquisition give it the edge? Yahoo Finance shares, “Diffeo Acquires Meta Search and Launches New Offering.” Startup Meta Search developed a local computer and cloud search system that uses smart indexing to assign index terms and keep the terms consistent. Diffeo provides a range of advanced content processing services based on collaborative machine intelligence. The press release specifies:
Diffeo’s content discovery platform accelerates research analysts by applying text analytics and machine intelligence algorithms to users’ in-progress files, so that it can recommend content that fills in knowledge gaps — often before the user thinks of searching. Diffeo acts as a personal research assistant that scours both the user’s files and the Internet. The company describes its technology as collaborative machine intelligence.
Diffeo and Meta’s services complement each other. Meta provides unified search across the content on all of a user’s cloud platforms and devices. Diffeo’s Advanced Discovery Toolbox displays recommendations alongside in-progress documents to accelerate the work of research analysts by uncovering key connections.
Meta’s platform integrates cloud environments into a single keyword search interface, enabling users to search their files on all cloud drives, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack and Evernote all at once. Meta also improves search quality by intelligently analyzing each document, determining the most important concepts, and automatically applying those concepts as ‘Smart Tags’ to the user’s documents.
This seems like a promising combination. Founded in 2012, Diffeo made Meta Search its first acquisition on January 10 of this year. The company is currently hiring. Meta Search, now called Diffeo Cloud Search, is based in Boston.
Cynthia Murrell, March 24, 2017
March 23, 2017
The article titled Silicon Valley Hedge Fund Takes Over Wall Street With AI Trader on Bloomberg explains how Sentient Technologies Inc. plans to take the human error out of the stock market. Babak Hodjat co-founded the company and spent the past 10 years building an AI system capable of reviewing billions of pieces of data and learning trends and techniques to make money by trading stocks. The article states that the system is based on evolution,
According to patents, Sentient has thousands of machines running simultaneously around the world, algorithmically creating what are essentially trillions of virtual traders that it calls “genes.” These genes are tested by giving them hypothetical sums of money to trade in simulated situations created from historical data. The genes that are unsuccessful die off, while those that make money are spliced together with others to create the next generation… Sentient can squeeze 1,800 simulated trading days into a few minutes.
Hodjat believes that handing the reins over to a machine is wise because it eliminates bias and emotions. But outsiders wonder whether investors will be willing to put their trust entirely in a system. Other hedge funds like Man AHL rely on machine learning too, but nowhere near to the extent of Sentient. As Sentient bring in outside investors later this year the success of the platform will become clearer.
Chelsea Kerwin, March 23, 2017
March 22, 2017
The article titled Google Will Make ‘Pirated’ Content Harder to Find From 1 June on The Inquirer proclaims a new approach to preventing piracy. Numerous entertainment organizations have nagged Google to set stricter rules, and even gone so far as to call Google a gateway to pirated content. The article mentions,
Google has already taken some steps to try and curb ‘piracy’ but has long refused to remove entire sites from search results as they may also offer legal content available for download. These days, the firm is flooded with takedown requests, last year revealing that it gets asked to remove 100,000 links to pirated content every hour.
The anti-piracy code will be adopted by Google and other unnamed search firms in cooperation with the British Intellectual Property Office. In the meantime, the article titled 7 Sites to Get Free Music (Legally!) on MakeUseOf suggests some solid options for people who want to kick the illegal pirating habit. BeSonic, Jamendo, and NoiseTrade are included on the list, and for those classical music lovers, MusOpen might have just the free content you are looking for.
Chelsea Kerwin, March 22, 2017
March 13, 2017
It will require training Canada’s youth in design and the arts, as well as STEM subjects if that country is to excel in today’s big-data world. That is the advice of trio of academic researchers in that country, Patricio Davila, Sara Diamond, and Steve Szigeti, who declare, “There’s No Big Data Without Intelligent Interface” at the Globe and Mail. The article begins by describing why data management is now a crucial part of success throughout society, then emphasizes that we need creative types to design intuitive user interfaces and effective analytics representations. The researchers explain:
Here’s the challenge: For humans, data are meaningless without curation, interpretation and representation. All the examples described above require elegant, meaningful and navigable sensory interfaces. Adjacent to the visual are emerging creative, applied and inclusive design practices in data “representation,” whether it’s data sculpture (such as 3-D printing, moulding and representation in all physical media of data), tangible computing (wearables or systems that manage data through tactile interfaces) or data sonification (yes, data can make beautiful music).
Infographics is the practice of displaying data, while data visualization or visual analytics refers to tools or systems that are interactive and allow users to upload their own data sets. In a world increasingly driven by data analysis, designers, digital media artists, and animators provide essential tools for users. These interpretive skills stand side by side with general literacy, numeracy, statistical analytics, computational skills and cognitive science.
We also learn about several specific projects undertaken by faculty members at OCAD University, where our three authors are involved in the school’s Visual Analytics Lab. For example, the iCity project addresses transportation network planning in cities, and the Care and Condition Monitor is a mobile app designed to help patients and their healthcare providers better work together in pursuit of treatment goals. The researchers conclude with an appeal to their nation’s colleges and universities to develop programs that incorporate data management, data numeracy, data analysis, and representational skills early and often. Good suggestion.
Cynthia Murrell, March 13, 2017
March 9, 2017
Here is the story of another successful Dark Web bust. Motherboard reports, “Undercover FBI Agent Busts Alleged Explosives Buyer on the Dark Web.” The 50-year-old suspect was based in Houston, and reporter Joseph Cox examined the related documents from the Southern District of Texas court. We are not surprised to learn that the FBI found this suspect through its infiltration of AlphaBay.; Cox writes:
The arrest was largely due to the work of an undercover agent who posed as an explosives seller on the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, showing that, even in the age of easy-to-use anonymization technology, old-school policing tactics are still highly effective at catching suspects.
According to the complaint, on August 21, an FBI Online Covert Employee (OCE)—essentially an undercover agent—located outside Houston logged into an AlphaBay vendor account they were running and opened an unsolicited private message from a user called boatmanstv. ‘looking for wireless transmitter with detonator,’ the message read. ‘Everything I need to set of a 5 gallon can of gas from a good distance away [sic].’ The pair started a rapport, and boatmanstv went into some detail about what he wanted to do with the explosives.
One thing led to another, and the buyer and “seller” agreed to an exchange after communicating for a couple of weeks. (Dark Web sting operations require patience. Lots of patience.) It became clear that Boatmanstv had some very specific plans in mind for a very specific target, and that he’d made plenty of purchases from AlphaBay before. The FBI was able to connect the suspect’s email account to other accounts, and finally to his place of business. He was arrested shortly after receiving and opening the FBI’s package, so it would appear there is one fewer violent criminal on the streets of Houston.
It is clear that the FBI, and other intelligence organizations, are infiltrating the Dark Web more and more. Let the illicit buyer be wary.
Cynthia Murrell, March 9, 2016
March 8, 2017
According to Scylla, their latest release is currently the fastest NoSQL database. We learn about the update from SiliconAngle’s article, “ScyllaDB Revamps NoSQL Database in 1.3 Release.” To support their claim, the company points to a performance benchmark test executed by the Yahoo Cloud Serving Benchmark project. That group compared ScyllaDB to the open source Cassandra database, and found Scylla to be 4.6 times faster than a standard Cassandra cluster.
Writer Mike Wheatley elaborates on the product:
ScyllaDB’s biggest differentiator is that it’s compatible with the Apache Cassandra database APIs. As such, the creators claims that ScyllaDB can be used as a drop-in replacement for Cassandra itself, offering users the benefit of improved performance and scale that comes from the integration with a light key/value store.
The company says the new release is geared towards development teams that have struggled with Big Data projects, and claims a number of performance advantages over more traditional development approach, including:
*10X throughput of baseline Cassandra – more than 1,000,000 CQL operations per second per node
*Sub 1msec 99% latency
*10X per-node storage capacity over Cassandra
*Self-tuning database: zero configuration needed to max out hardware
*Unparalleled high availability, native multi-datacenter awareness
*Drop-in replacement for Cassandra – no additional scripts or code required”
Wheatley cites Scylla’s CTO when he points to better integration with graph databases and improved support for Thrift, Date Tiered Compaction Strategy, Large Partitions, Docker, and CQL tracing. I notice the company is hiring as of this writing. Don’t let the Tel Aviv location of Scylla’s headquarters stop from applying you if you don’t happen to live nearby—they note that their developers can work from anywhere in the world.
Cynthia Murrell, March 8, 2016