Rediscovering What Once Was Taught: Why Software Goes the Wrong Way

March 27, 2020

DarkCyber spotted a link to an essay called “The Expert Blind Spot In Software Development.” The write up states:

I stumbled upon the theory of the expert blind spot…

What’s the blind spot? DarkCyber knows that Microsoft cannot update Windows 10 without creating problems for some users. Google cannot update Chrome without wizards in the office. Apple cannot update the iPhone without breaking things like the hot spot function. In fact, software pretty much is one set of things that don’t work. Some large, some small—Most are friction, costing money, slowing down actions.

image

Modern software development explains why Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft make their cloud technologies complex and opaque. Increasing friction generates revenue, not happy users. The image is from Go Physics’ depiction of entropy.

The article explains that beginners operated with the “illusion of competence.” What’s omitted is that institutional pressure forces beginners to operate as if they were chock full of information germane to a task. Managers don’t want to manage, and most managers know that their responsibilities exceed their competence. But that’s the way the world works: Everyone is an expert, and the leaders lead, or that’s the theory in many organizations. The managerial forces create Brownian motion in which those creating software operate like sailboats, each generally heading in some direction: Just with poorly defined rules of the road.

The write up works through an interesting explanation of how “memory” works. But the core of the essay is that “expert blind spots” exist, and those blind spots are problems. The article states:

The best way to be aware of somebody’s level of knowledge in some precise areas is simply to speak with him. In my experience, informal, relaxed conversations, around a cup of coffee, a tea or whatever you like, is the best way to do so.

The idea is that interaction and talking fill in some of the knowledge gaps between those who work together to achieve a goal. There are a number of tips; for example:

  • Map your schemata which seems to edge close to the idea of taking notes
  • Write a  journal which seems to be taking notes, just on a time centric trajectory
  • Writing a blog, which seems to be converting the two previous ideas into a coherent essay.

What’s quite interesting about this write up is that the core idea was well stated in “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings,” an essay / lecture by William James, yeah, the novelist’s brother.

James wrote:

And now what is the result of all these considerations and quotations? It is negative in one sense, but positive in another. It absolutely forbids us to be forward in pronouncing on the meaninglessness of forms of existence other than our own; and it commands us to tolerate, respect, and indulge those whom we see harmlessly interested and happy in their own ways, however unintelligible these may be to us. Hands off: neither the whole of truth nor the whole of good is revealed to any single observer, although each observer gains a partial superiority of insight from the peculiar position in which he stands. Even prisons and sick-rooms have their special revelations. It is enough to ask of each of us that he should be faithful to his own opportunities and make the most of his own blessings, without presuming to regulate the rest of the vast field.

Several observations:

  • A certain blindness defines the human condition
  • Technical people are rediscovering why their software sucks but lack an pre-conditioning or early alert about why their work product is half baked or just good enough
  • A flawed mechanism for creating the fuel for the 21st century guarantees that the friction will wear down the parts; that is, software becomes more and more of a problem for its users.

What’s the fix? On one hand, there is no fix. On the other, a more comprehensive education might reduce the frustration and time consuming rediscovery of what’s been known for many years.

Now about those new nVidia drivers which cause crashes when a cursor is repositioned…

Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2020

Open RAN to Run Down Huawei

March 20, 2020

China’s top networking and telecom company Huawei is poised to dominate the world’s 5G wireless network, and we’re told the CIA took matters into its own hands years ago. The Washington Times reports, “CIA Funnels Cash to Private Company Aimed at Defeating Huawei.” Instead of waiting for Congress, the Justice Department, the Pentagon, and the White House to agree on a path, the CIA contracted venture capital fund In-Q-Tel to find a solution. Reporter Ryan Lovelace writes:

“Christopher Darby, the president and CEO of In-Q-Tel, told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last month that the venture capital fund began investing in 5G technology seven years ago. He said in a hearing that his fund has identified Parallel Wireless, a telecommunications service provider based in New Hampshire, as part of a government solution to concerns about Huawei’s threats to national security. Parallel Wireless uses a software-centered approach for building radio access network (RAN) capability that would ‘eliminate the need to spend millions of dollars on new equipment and infrastructure upgrades,’ according to a document on the company’s website. Parallel Wireless says its ‘Open RAN,’ which requires minimum maintenance, is ready for deployment immediately. Steve Papa, co-founder, chairman and CEO, said Parallel Wireless is fortunate that In-Q-Tel is proactively fighting Chinese domination of telecommunications. ‘Parallel Wireless is committed to destroying the threat Huawei poses to the free world,’ Mr. Papa said in an email. ‘We are actively working to ensure America and the world are free from the constraints of Huawei. Parallel works with many companies, many governments and many government agencies including In-Q-Tel.’”

Some in positions of power, like the attorney general, remain unconvinced Open RAN is a viable solution. Others are critical of In-Q-Tel itself. The fund was launched in 1999 as an investment firm for the intelligence community, which naturally means its investments were made with taxpayer dollars. Yet top-earning employees at the company have profited greatly from the fund’s success—several with annual salaries greater than $500,000 and with Darby himself making over $1.6 million in 2017 alone.

Be that as it may, it is beside the point of whether Parallel Wireless is indeed the answer to our Huawei problem. Will the CIA convince the rest of the federal government this is the solution?

Cynthia Murrell, March 20, 2020

Intel: A Company Seemingly Unable to Move Up the Confidence Curve

March 6, 2020

DarkCyber noted stories about Intel’s quantum computing innovation. We chose to push the story into the “maybe later” file. Now is the time. The write up is “Intel Details ‘Horse Ridge’ Cryogenic Quantum Computing Control Chip.” There are some tough-to-believe quantum computing announcements zipping around the interweb’s tubes. A revolution will be forthcoming from a thermostat and weapons control systems vendor. There was an announcement about a quantum computer that cost less than a $1,000. (No, DarkCyber did not purchase one, nor did any of the team sign up for a multi hour lecture about the wonders of quantum computing. Science fiction is not on the corona virus menu unless one globe trots to advanced technology conferences.) Now quantum computers are going to be — really soon — fast computers, and fast computers need chips and stuff.

So what’s with the Horse Ridge thing?

Intel wants to control those very expensive quantum computers. The company has announced a”cryogenic quantum control chip.” Below is a snap of what’s needed for a modest cryogenic set up about the size of an old fashioned school lunch box:

Image result for overclocking cryogenic

Here’s a more robust set up for a mostly working quantum computer. The installation is about the size of soccer mom’s van.

Image result for cyogenic cooling

Intel is going to control these types of units plus other assorted gizmos required to make quantum computing a useful system… sometime.

The Horse Ridge write up chirps:

The semiconductor giant and QuTech — a partnership between TU Delft and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) — detailed in a research paper that where scalability is concerned, the integrated System-on-a-Chip design can integrate four radiofrequency (RF) channels into a single 4x4mm device. According to Intel, this was achieved by using Intel’s 22nm FFL CMOS technology. The company added that each channel could control up to 32 qubits to leverage “frequency multiplexing” — a technique described by Intel as dividing the total bandwidth available into a series of non-overlapping frequency bands — each of which could be used to carry a separate signal.

If the write up is accurate, Intel did not do this work alone. The development of a control system is not actually a quantum computer. But Intel has a quantum marker in the Web indexes.

Does Horse Ridge work? Sure, under precise lab conditions, DarkCyber is confident the chip does something; otherwise, the PR professionals would not have the green light to tell DarkCyber and the world that Intel, like the thermostat vendor, is “into” quantum computing.

Why comment on this story now?

The answer is that DarkCyber spotted ITPro’s article “Intel Unable to Fix Critical Hardware-Encoded CPU Flaw.” The write up states what is an allegedly accurate statement of the limitations of Intel’s designers and engineers:

Some of the most widely-used Intel chips released over the last five years are embedded with a critical vulnerability at the hardware level, as well as within the firmware. A flaw has been discovered in the Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME) boot ROM on most Intel chipsets and system on a chip (SoC) units available today, apart from 10th-gen CPUs with Ice Point components.

The write up includes this interesting statement:

The range of devices afflicted is very broad, according to Intel. These include CSME-ready chips with SPS firmware for servers, TXE firmware for tablets or low-power devices, DAL software for machines ranging from workstations to IoT devices, and the AMT module used for remote IT management.

Yes, Intel’s credibility seems to be making modest progress. Furthermore, the Horse Ridge announcement makes clear that progress comes by leveraging a non US organization’s innovations as evidence of quantum traction.

Intel needs snow tires, chains, and a four wheel drive to make it up Horse Ridge and pull itself out of the rut of that allows an attacker to conduct arbitrary code execution on lots of personal computers, servers, and other devices.

Net net: Intel seems to face a Boeing Max like challenge.

Stephen E Arnold, March 6, 2020

Honeywell: The Quantum Computing Thermostat Company

March 5, 2020

Yeah, that’s a bit of rural Kentucky humor. Honeywell is in four businesses and a fifth apparently has been added: Quantum computing. If you think Honeywell and recall the user friendly thermostat in your home, you are not thinking about the future, government contracts, breaking computing barriers, and putting technology pretenders like IBM, Google, and dozens of other companies in their place.

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The Honeywell he CommercialPRO 7000 Programmable Thermostat is fantastic, according to Honeywell. For an entertaining experience, ask a friend to set the temperature for 4 pm today. This is a TikTok viral video DarkCyber believes.

To refresh your memory, DarkCyber wants to point out that Honeywell was once based in Wabash, Indiana. The firm generates about $40 billion a year from:

  • Aerospace
  • Building technologies
  • Materials
  • Safety productivity systems.

Now Honeywell is in the quantum computing business, according to the Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2020, edition. You may be able to locate the story behind a paywall at this link.

Honeywell has enjoyed a number of government contracts, and the firm is one of the leaders in smart controls and weapons management technology. In 1955, Honeywell teamed with Raytheon in order to compete with IBM. By the mid 1960s, Honeywell was one of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of Computing. (Unfamiliar with this bit of digital history, Bing or Google may turn up some relevant hits, but I would recommend microfilm of the Minneapolis newspapers from this era. Don’t let your Bermuda shorts get in a bunch as you explore the innovations of Burroughs, Control Data Corp., GE, NCR, RCA, and my personal fave Univac.

Honeywell does a significant amount of computing and software/systems development. The firms owns a number of high technology business; for example, a radiation detection firm and has a stake in Zapata Computing.

Zapata says here:

We are the deepest bench of quantum scientists in the industry. Our founders helped create the field of near-term quantum algorithms including the invention of VQE, the progenitor of variational quantum algorithms.

The company’s approach relies on quantum charge coupled device (QCCD) architecture. The approach uses a technology called “trapped ions.” The idea is that useful work can be done due to leveraging mid circuit measurement. The idea is to insert a dynamic “if” based on the state of the calculation at a point in time. IonQ and Alpine Quantum Technologies also use the method. For some details, do a patent search for “trapped ion”. The background of US5793091A (assigned to IBM) provides some helpful information.

What business opportunities does Honeywell envision for its quantum computer? Here’s a selection gleaned from the PR blitz Honeywell launched a short time ago:

  • Landing more customers like JPMorgan, Chase, and Company
  • Speeding up financial calculations
  • Creating new trading strategies (high speed trading?)
  • Materials science applications (heat shields, stealth coatings?)
  • Run Monte Carlo simulations (nuclear fuel analyses, risk and fraud analyses?)

The Honeywell quantum computer will be bigger than IBM’s quantum computer.

Interesting business play because Honeywell has a deal with Microsoft to plug the Honeywell technology into the Azure cloud.

The coverage of Honeywell’s announcement reveals the hyperbole associated with quantum computing. DarkCyber interprets the assertions as the equivalent of an athlete’s pre-season exercise routine. Progress may be made, but the effort can only be judged when the “star” is on the field and in the game.

Until then, the buzzword sells expectations, not a solution to a here-and-now problem. One has to admire Honeywell’s PR generating capability.

Stephen E Arnold, March 5, 2020

Canadian Government Computers: Getting Arthritic

March 3, 2020

Government organizations are usually the last to upgrade their computer systems to anything resembling state of the art technology. Lack of new technology prevents the government organizations from implementing new, streamlined procedures and even catching bad actors who cheat the system. CBC explains that something much worse could happen with old government technology in the article: “Aging Government Computer Systems At Risk Of ‘Critical Failure,’ Trudeau Warned.”

One would expect Canada to be on top of its computer systems compared to the United States, but in many ways the country has just as many problems as its southern neighbor. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described that his country’s computer infrastructures are outdated and on the brink of collapsing. Many of the computer systems are almost sixty years old, but the technology can no longer be maintained.

The Canadian Press accessed documents through the Access to Information Act, but most of the obtained information was blacked out except lines like “to stabilize mission-critical systems.”

Outdated computer systems are not high on politicians’ priority list, but they are learning that their constituents are happier when government organizations work. One of Canada’s most notorious antiquated and very used computer system is the Employment and Social Development that manages insurance benefits for every citizen. Upgrades are in the budget, but they cost more than anticipated.

“The Liberals have already made multiple changes to the federal social safety net that required programming changes to old systems. The documents to Trudeau suggest the aged systems pose a problem for more changes the Liberals have promised.

“The complex array of existing programs and services means that future program changes, to continue providing Canadians with the programs and services they expect when interacting with their government, will need to account for pressures on legacy IT systems, which are facing rust-out and critical failure,” part of the briefing binder says.

“These aging platforms neither meet the desired digital interaction nor are capable of full automation, and thus are unable to deliver cost-savings through back-office functions.”

Upgrades are planned, but the projects are complex. Also funding is required to keep systems running that were not meant to be used for so long. Funding is pulled away from upgrades to keep the legacy systems running. Canada did not attempt to update its systems as long they worked.

There is not a need to panic yet, but the warning signs are starting to blink. Canada’s government tried to update some IT-related projects in the past but they did not do well. It is estimated that upgrading all of Canada’s systems will take a decade. The problem will be finding the money and the right people to handle the project. Once the decade is over and everything is upgraded, the Canadian government will have to start all over again because technology advances so quickly. At least there will be a better system to upgrade from.

Whitney Grace, March 3, 2020

Quantum Computing Dust Up: Is the Spirit of Jeffrey Influencing Some Academics?

March 2, 2020

If you are into quantum computing and the magic it will deliver… any minute now, you won’t bother reading the MIT Technology Review article “Inside the Race to Build the Best Quantum Computer on Earth.” Please, keep in mind that MIT allegedly accepted funds from the science loving Jeffrey Epstein and then seemed to forget about that money.

Here’s the key sentence in the write up:

None of these devices—or any other quantum computer in the world, except for Google’s Sycamore—has yet shown it can beat a classical machine at anything.

One minor point: MIT’s experts appear to have overlooked China, Israel, and Russia Is it really ignoring quantum computing?), to name three nation states with reasonably competent researchers.

The focus on IBM and Google is understandable. Did DarkCyber mention that IBM is contributing to MIT’s funding; for example, the IBM Watson Lab?

What’s the point of the MIT Magazine research? Let’s try to see if there are quantum-sized clues?

First, Google asserted in 2019 that the fun loving folks in Mountain View had achieved “quantum supremacy.” IBM responded, “Nope.” This write up expands on IBM’s viewpoint; specifically, Google’s quantum magic was meaningless. Okay, maybe from IBM’s point of view, but from Google’s, the announcement was super duper click bait.

Second, IBM is doing research and business development in parallel. Google sells ads; IBM sells … what? Consulting, mainframes, managed facilities, and Watson? Google sells ads. Ads generate money for Google moon shots and quantum PR. IBM spends its money on ads. Okay, that’s a heck of a point.

Third, IBM wants to build a quantum business that does business things. Google wants to build a cloud computer to [a] sell ads, [b] beat Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft in the cloud, [c] accomplish a goal like climbing a mountain, [d] it is just Googley, [e] two of the four choices.

Net net: The write up walks a fine line. On one side is IBM and its checkbook and on the other is the Google. Is the write up objective? From DarkCyber’s point of view, like artificial intelligence, quantum computing is just around the corner.

DarkCyber is checking to make sure that when NewEgg.com offers quantum components, the team can buy one. For now, we will stick with the Ryzen 3900x: It works, is stable, and does jobs without too much fiddling.

Quantum computers require a bit more work. But when deciding between funding and ads, maybe fancy dancing around quantum computing is the tune the MIT band is playing?

Stephen E Arnold, March 2, 2020

Friday Fiction Facts: Software Will Read Your Mind or What Did You Just Think, You Silly Customer?

February 28, 2020

Machines that can read a person’s thoughts and predict that individual’s  actions has inspired many science fiction and fantasy fans, but technology has yet to become a rock solid reality like Captain Kirk’s communications device. Technology might have finally advanced enough to realize this idea says “New Software Agents Will Infer What Users Are Thinking.”

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is heading a DARPA project that will examine how AI can be designed to predict human thoughts. Katia Sycara from CMU’s Robotics Institute will lead the project (budgeted at $6.6 million) sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. Neuroscientists and human factors expert from Northrop Grumman and the University of Pittsburgh will also work on the project.

The project’s aim is to see how machine social intelligence can help human/machine teams safety, efficiently, and productively work together. Sycara and her team hope to teach machines how to infer human behavior. Humans innately have this skill, but machines have a long way to go:

“Humans have the ability to infer the mental states of others, called theory of mind — something people do as part of situational awareness while evaluating their environment and considering possible actions. AI systems aren’t yet capable of this skill, but Sycara and her colleagues expect to achieve this through meta-learning, a branch of machine learning in which the software agent essentially learns how to learn….The research team will test their socially intelligent agents in a search-and-rescue scenario within the virtual world of the Minecraft video game, in a testbed developed with researchers at Arizona State University. In the first year, the researchers will focus on training their software agent to infer the state of mind of an individual team member. In subsequent years, the agent will interact with multiple human players and attempt to understand what each of them is thinking, even as their virtual environment changes.”

The project’s research focuses on software agents or digital assistants, which exist. Just try a smart customer support service. These are are limited in their actions and their intelligence. More autonomous, intelligent programs can work on complex tasks with their human partners. Self driving cars, like the Tesla, already use software agents as do pop up advertisements. The range of tasks software agents can do is endless, but some will be more beneficial to humans than others.

Mind reading? Venture capitalists, open your check books.

Whitney Grace, February 28, 2020

Acquiring Data: Addressing a Bottleneck

February 12, 2020

Despite all the advances in automation and digital technology, humans are still required to manually input information into computers. While modern technology makes automation easier than ever millions of hours are spent on data entry. Artificial intelligence and deep learning could be the key to ending data entry says Venture Beat article, “How Rossum Is Using Deep Learning To Extract Data From Any Document.”

Rossum is an AI startup based in Prague, Czechoslovakia, founded by Tomas Gogar, Tomas Tunys, and Petr Baudis. Rossum was started in 2017 and its client list has grown to include top tier clients: IBM, Box, Siemens, Bloomberg, and Siemens. Its recent project focuses on using deep learning to end invoice data entry. Instead of relying entirely on optical character recognition (OCR) Rossum uses “cognitive data capture” that trains machines to evaluate documents like a human. Rossum’s cognitive data capture is like an OCR upgrade:

“OCR tools rely on different sets of rules and templates to cover every type of invoice they may come across. The training process can be slow and time-consuming, given that a company may need to create hundreds of new templates and rule sets. In contrast, Rossum said its cloud-based software requires minimal effort to set up, after which it can peruse a document like a human does — regardless of style or formatting — and it doesn’t rely on fully structured data to extract the content companies need. The company also claims it can extract data 6 times faster than with manual entry while saving companies up to 80% in costs.”

Rossum’s cloud approach to cognitive data capture differentiates it from similar platforms due to being located on the cloud. Because Rossum does not need on-site installation, all of Rossum’s rescuers and engineering goes directly to client support. It is similar to Salesforce’s software-as-a-service model established in 1999.

The cognitive data capture tool works faster and unlike its predecessors:

“Rossum’s pretrained AI engine can be tried and tested within a couple of minutes of integrating its REST API. As with any self-respecting machine learning system, Rossum’s AI adapts as it learns from customers’ data. Rossum claims an average accuracy rate of around 95%, and in situations where its system can’t identify the correct data fields, it asks a human operator for feedback to improve from.”

Rossum is not searching to replace human labor, instead they want to free up human time to focus on more complex problems.

Whitney Grace, February 12, 2020

The New Term for Failure: Iowa App

February 9, 2020

Every elder generation is critical of the subsequent generations. It is a rite of passage. This pattern is as old as Socrates and other ancient philosophers, but it is more apparent now due to the Internet blasting it in our faces 24/7. Problems with older generations are that their brains have less flexible neuroplasticity and that leads them to misunderstand the youth. It also makes them less likely to try or understand new things, such as technology. Are Generation Z and the Millennials as hopeless as believed? The MIT Technology Review posted a winning essay that answers that question, “We Asked Teenagers What Adults Are Missing About Technology. This Was The Best Response.”

The MIT Technology Review held a contest that asked the question: What do adults not know about my generation and technology? Taylor Fang from Logan, Utah won the contest out of 376 submissions from twenty-eight countries.

Fang relies on the standard poetic prose that favors singular words and short sentences. She repeats Generation Z criticisms, then abandons the poetic prose for the for a more conversational essay that answers the questions. Usually essays and poetic prose do not share the same page or if they do it is not successful. Yang first uses the metaphor that kids “conceal” themselves behind screens, then Segways into how social media allows them to write their “biographies” and find themselves.

All kids and young adults are finding themselves, screaming to be validated in a world they cannot influence or control. Are these rebels without a cause? Yes, but the Internet helps them find the cause and gives them a voice. Generations before the Z and Millennials screamed for a voice, but were regulated to puff pieces and brushed off. The Internet gives youth a voice and an upper hand because they understand technology more than their elders. It is also a creative outlet that helps kids find themselves:

“This isn’t to say that every teenager should begin creating art. Or that art would solve all of social media’s problems. But approaching technology through a creative lens is more effective than merely “raising awareness.” Rather than reducing teenagers to statistics, we should make sure teenagers have the chance to tell their own experiences in creative ways.

Take the example of “selfies.” Selfies, as many adults see them, are nothing more than narcissistic pictures to be broadcast to the world at large. But even the selfie representing a mere “I was here” has an element of truth. Just as Frida Kahlo painted self-portraits, our selfies construct a small part of who we are. Our selfies, even as they are one-­dimensional, are important to us.”

Yang inserts Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” as the obligatory inspirational quote from a famous person to affirm there claims that the Internet does not ruin kids inner selves, but rather validates it and creates their identity. She reverts back to the typical poetic prose to emphasis her idea and ends with “We’re striving not only to be seen, but to see with our own eyes.”

Honestly, it’s an essay that pulls from multiple literary techniques to answer why old people are so grouchy about the youth. Yang’s essay is basic, but intuitive for a senior in high school. It won an international contest and offered sympathetic and mindful food for thought. However, her writing technique is all over the place and exhibits the folly of youthful writing. She is focused and ambitious, but in forty years time Yang could be complaining about the next catchy named generation. It is a vicious cycle and a rite of passage.

And Iowa? Youth demonstrate that their expertise has limits? The future beckons for Iowa Apps regardless of one’s age.

Whitney Grace, February 9, 2020

Why Techno-Babble and Crazy Promises Are Necessary

February 3, 2020

Do you believe the assertions about artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and quantum computing? The question is important because, according to the Nieman Lab, “Humans are hardwire to dismiss facts that don’t fit their worldview.” For those who believe in unicorns and fantasize about unicornification, the wilder and crazier the explanations about technology, the more coherent they sound. But try to provide facts, and the human brain is just not that interested if the research is accurate.

The write up asserts:

In theory, resolving factual disputes should be relatively easy: Just present the evidence of a strong expert consensus. This approach succeeds most of the time when the issue is, say, the atomic weight of hydrogen. But things don’t work that way when the scientific consensus presents a picture that threatens someone’s ideological worldview. In practice, it turns out that one’s political, religious, or ethnic identity quite effectively predicts one’s willingness to accept expertise on any given politicized issue.

What do these references to politicization have to do with technology sales and marketing?

DarkCyber believes that when one points out that an error rate of 85 percent means that there are 15 mistakes per 100 items. People think that error rate is okay, acceptable, maybe great. Apply the error rate to identifying potential bad actors, and someone has to figure out how to explain what happened to the 15 actors put in the bad egg bin.

Present this type of “fact” to a group, and most of the people exposed to the fact will ignore it.

But— and here’s the important point — evoke Star Trek, some magical numerical recipe, or just plain old hocus pocus like Google’s endless yammering about search quality, and people believe this stuff.

Years ago, enterprise search pitch men and pitch women discovered that promising to index “all of an organization’s information” and “eliminating time wasted looking for information” was the key to sales. Explaining that enterprise search was more like crafting a specific search system for a particular and quite specific problem was the more rational approach.

Sales were made, but the users were unhappy. The consequences were dire. Companies failed. Investors lost their money. One search executive was convicted of a criminal offense.

Flash forward to today. Predictive analytics, algorithms, and smart software will improve efficiency, reduce costs, unleash innovation, extract value from dark data, and generate new revenue.

Facts are one thing. Marketing hype another. Guess which takes precedence in search, analytics, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing?

If you said facts, you are in the minority if the Neiman Lab write up is correct.

Stephen E Arnold, February 3, 2020

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