HonkinNews for 28 Feb 2017 Now Available

February 28, 2017

This week’s HonkinNews considers the Facebook “manifesto.” Our interpretation is that companies like Facebook are countries too. Aren’t we lucky? The IBM security conference is scheduled for March 2017 and Beyond Search was invited. We assume that the data science root access breach will be one highlighted case study. The program also comments on the Pinterest Lens technology. Now after “pintering”, one can locate and buy a product. No words required. Two stories illustrate the depth or shallowness of thinking about online research. We present a list of “must use” search engines and note some notable omissions. Then we consider a comparison of conducting research on an ad supported system versus the commercial databases, books, and journals at a first-rate research library like Dartmouth’s. The subject of Google’s Loon balloons drifts in as well. We consider the question: Will Facebook free Internet drones engage in combat with Google’s free Internet Loon balloons? You can find it at this link.

Kenny Toth, February 28, 2017

HonkinNews for 21 February Now Available

February 21, 2017

Hang onto your lightweight mobile. HonkinNews lets you watch recall, precision, and relevance being kicked to pieces by a real live SEO expert and famed author. We love that “famed” thing. You will also get a peek at how to visualize innovation. Inside the box and outside the box look tame compared to our view of the real world. We give you a tip for searching for an image in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 350,000 digital collection. You may not like the answer. We did not. If you have a mainframe in your home office, you can load Watson and let it index your significant other’s recipes, or you can process a local bank’s overnight cash transactions. Either way, IBM gives you some Watson juice. And you will get a bit of information about Yahoo’s most recent security issue. Yep, yabba dabba hoot.

Kenny Toth, February 21, 2017

Gender Bias in Voice Recognition Software

February 21, 2017

A recent study seems to confirm what some have suspected: “Research Shows Gender Bias in Google’s Voice Recognition,” reports the Daily Dot. Not that this is anything new. Writer Selena Larson reminds us that voice recognition tech has a history of understanding men better than women, from a medical tracking system to voice-operated cars.  She cites a recent study by linguist researcher Rachael Tatman, who found that YouTube’s auto captions performed better on male voices than female ones by about 13 percent—no small discrepancy. (YouTube is owned by Google.)

Though no one is accusing the tech industry of purposely rendering female voices less effective, developers probably could have avoided this problem with some forethought. The article explains:

’Language varies in systematic ways depending on how you’re talking,’ Tatman said in an interview. Differences could be based on gender, dialect, and other geographic and physical attributes that factor into how our voices sound. To train speech recognition software, developers use large datasets, either recorded on their own, or provided by other linguistic researchers. And sometimes, these datasets don’t include diverse speakers.

Tatman recommends a purposeful and organized approach to remedying the situation. Larson continues:

Tatman said the best first step to address issues in voice tech bias would be to build training sets that are stratified. Equal numbers of genders, different races, socioeconomic statuses, and dialects should be included, she said.

Automated technology is developed by humans, so our human biases can seep into the software and tools we are creating to supposedly to make lives easier. But when systems fail to account for human bias, the results can be unfair and potentially harmful to groups underrepresented in the field in which these systems are built.

Indeed, that’s the way bias works most of the time—it is more often the result of neglect than of malice. To avoid it requires realizing there may be a problem in the first place, and working to avoid it from the outset. I wonder what other technologies could benefit from that understanding.

Cynthia Murrell, February 21, 2017

HonkinNews for 14 February 2017 Now Available

February 14, 2017

Want some tax love? HonkinNews explains that you can visit an H&R Block store front and “touch” IBM Watson. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? You will also learn about the fate of Lexmark’s search and content businesses under the firm’s new ownership. Denmark has appointed an ambassador to Sillycon Valley. Perhaps Apple, Facebook, and Google really are nation states? Google’s cloud wizard has some job advice for the newly terminated. Perhaps dog training collars are a breakthrough for those eager to acquire news skills. Lucid Imagination became Lucidworks. Now the company has positioned itself to deliver Exalead style search based applications. The play did not work too well for Exalead, which wrote the book about SBAs. Will Lucidworks make the me-too strategy pay off for the company’s backers and their tens of millions of dollars? We also catalog the many ways to search using the Pixel phone. Whatever happened to universal search?  We reveal where to live if you want easy access to old fashioned book stores. No, it is not Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. You can view the video at this link.

Kenny Toth, February 14, 2017

HonkinNews for 7 February 2017 Now Available

February 7, 2017

This week’s program highlights Google’s pre school and K-3 robot innovation from Boston Dynamics. In June 2016 we thought Toyota was purchasing the robot reindeer company. We think Boston Dynamics may still be part of the Alphabet letter set. Also, curious about search vendor pivots. Learn about two shuffles (Composite Software and CopperEye) which underscore why plain old search is a tough market. You will learn about the Alexa Conference and the winner of the Alexathon. Alexa seems to be a semi hot product. When will we move “beyond Alexa”? Social media analysis has strategic value? What vendor seems to have provided “inputs” to the Trump campaign and the Brexit now crowd? HonkinNews reveals the hot outfit making social media data output slick moves. We provide a run down of some semantic “news” which found its way to Harrod’s Creek. SEO, writing tips, and a semantic scorecard illustrate the enthusiasm some have for semantics. We’re not that enthusiastic, however. Google is reducing its losses from its big bets like the Loon balloon. How much? We reveal the savings, and it is a surprising number. And those fun and friendly robots. Yes, the robots. You can view the video at this link. Google Video provides a complete run down of the HonkinNews programs too. Just search for HonkinNews.

Kenny Toth, February 7, 2017

Synthetic Datasets: Reality Bytes

February 5, 2017

Years ago I did a project for an outfit specializing in an esoteric math space based on mereology. No, I won’t define it. You can check out the explanation in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The idea is that sparse information can yield useful insights. Even better, if mathematical methods were use to populate missing cells in a data system, one could analyze the data as if it were more than probability generated items. Then when real time data arrived to populate the sparse cells, the probability component would generate revised data for the cells without data. Nifty idea, just tough to explain to outfits struggling to move freight or sell off lease autos.

I thought of this company’s software system when I read “Synthetic Datasets Are a Game Changer.” Once again youthful wizards happily invent the future even though some of the systems and methods have been around for decades. For more information about the approach, the journal articles and books of Dr. Zbigniew Michaelewicz may be helpful.

The “Synthetic Databases…” write up triggered some yellow highlighter activity. I found this statement interesting:

Google researchers went as far as to say that even mediocre algorithms received state-of-the-art results given enough data.

The idea that algorithms can output “good enough” results when volumes of data are available to the number munching algorithms.

I also noted:

there are recent successes using a new technique called ‘synthetic datasets’ that could see us overcome those limitations. This new type of dataset consists of images and videos that are solely rendered by computers based on various parameters or scenarios. The process through which those datasets are created fall into 2 categories: Photo realistic rendering and Scenario rendering for lack of better description.

The focus here is not on figuring out how to move nuclear fuel rods around a reactor core or adjusting coal fired power plant outputs to minimize air pollution. The synthetic databases have an application in image related disciplines.

The idea of using rendering engines to create images for facial recognition or for video games is interesting. The write up mentions a number of companies pushing forward in this field; for example, Cvedia.

However, the use of NuTech’s methods populated databases of fact. I think the use of synthetic methods has a bright future. Oh, NuTech was acquired by Netezza. Guess what company owns the prescient NuTech Solutions’ technology? Give up? IBM, a company which has potent capabilities but does the most unusual things with those important systems and methods.

I suppose that is one reason why old wine looks like new IBM Holiday Spirit rum.

Stephen E Arnold, February 5, 2017

HonkinNews for January 31, 2017 Now Available

January 31, 2017

This weeks’ seven minute HonkinNews includes some highlights from the Beyond Search coverage of Alphabet Google. If you have not followed, Sergey Brin’s participation at the World Economic Forum, you may have missed the opportunity that Google did not recognize. More surprising is that Alphabet Google owns a stake in a company which specializes in predicting the future. IBM Watson had a busy holiday season. The company which has compiled 19 consecutive quarters of declining revenue invented a new alcoholic “spirit”, sometimes referred to as booze, hooch, the bane of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. How did Watson, a software system, jump from reading text to inventing rum? We tell what Watson really did. How did Palantir Technologies respond to a protest in front of its Palo Alto headquarters, known by some as the Shire? Think free coffee, and we reveal what the Beyond Search goose wants when she attends a protest. Beyond Search has an interest in voice search, which seems to be more than an oddity. Learn about the battle between Amazon and Google. The stakes are high because Amazon is not a big player in search, but Alexa technology way be about to kick on of the legs from Google’s online hegemony. DuckDuckGo honked loudly that it experienced significant growth in online search traffic. How close is DuckDuckGo to Google? Find out. Mind that gap. Microsoft has “invented”, rediscovered, or simply copied Autonomy’s Kenjin service from the 1990s. The lucky Word users will experience automatic search and the display of third party information in an Outlook style paneled interface. HonkinNews believes that those writing term papers will be happy with the new “Research.” Yahoot or Yabba Dabba Hoot warrants a mention. The US Securities & Exchange Commission is allegedly poking into Yahoo’s ill timed public release of information about losing its users information. Yep, Yabba Dabba Hoot. Enjoy Beyond Search which is filmed on 8 mm film from the Beyond Search cabin in rural Kentucky.

If you are looking for previous HonkinNews videos, you can find them by navigating to www.googlevideo.com and running the query HonkinNews. Watch for Stephen E Arnold’s new information service, Beyond Alexa. Who wants to type a search query? That’s like real work and definitely not the future.

Kenny Toth, January 31, 2017

Google Needs a Time-Out for Censorship, But Who Will Enforce Regulations

January 26, 2017

The article on U.S. News and World Report titled The New Censorship offers a list of the ways in which Google is censoring its content, and builds a compelling argument for increased regulation of Google. Certain items on the list, such as pro-life music videos being removed from YouTube, might have you rolling your eyes, but the larger point is that Google simply has too much power over what people see, hear, and know. The most obvious problem is Google’s ability to squash a business simply by changing its search algorithm, but the myriad ways that it has censored content is really shocking. The article states,

No one company, which is accountable to its shareholders but not to the general public, should have the power to instantly put another company out of business or block access to any website in the world. How frequently Google acts irresponsibly is beside the point; it has the ability to do so, which means that in a matter of seconds any of Google’s 37,000 employees with the right passwords or skills could laser a business or political candidate into oblivion…

At times the article sounds like a sad conservative annoyed that the most influential company in the world tends toward liberal viewpoints. Hearing white male conservatives complain about discrimination is always a little off-putting, especially when you have politicians like Rand Paul still defending the right of businesses to refuse service based on skin color. But from a liberal standpoint, just because Google often supports left-wing causes like gun control or the pro-choice movement doesn’t mean that it deserves a free ticket to decide what people are exposed to. Additionally, the article points out that the supposed “moral stands” made by Google are often revealed to be moneymaking or anticompetitive schemes. Absolute power corrupts no matter who yields it, and companies must be scrutinized to protect the interests of the people.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 26, 2017

Bing Gets Nostalgic

January 25, 2017

In my entire life, I have never seen so many people who were happy to welcome in a New Year.  2016 will be remembered for violence, political uproar, and other stuff that people wish to forget.  Despite the negative associations with 2016, other stuff did happen and looking back might offer a bit of nostalgia for the news and search trends of the past year.  On MSFT runs down a list of what happened on Bing in 2016,“Check Out The Top Search Trends On Bing This Past Year.”

Rather than focusing on a list of just top searches, Bing’s top 2016 searches are divided into categories: video games, Olympians, viral moments, tech trends, and feel good stories.  More top searches are located over at Bing page.  However, on the top viral trends it is nice to see that cat videos have gone down in popularity:

Ryder Cup heckler

Villanova’s piccolo girl

Powerball

Aston Martin winner

Who’s the mom?

Evgenia Medvedeva

Harambe the gorilla

#DaysoftheWeek

Cats of the Internet

Pokemon Go

On a personal level, I am surprised that Harambe the gorilla outranked Pokemon Go.  Some of these trends I do not even remember making the Internet circuit and I was on YouTube and Reddit for all of 2016.  I have been around enough years to recognize that things come and go and 2016 might have come off as a bad year for many, in reality, it was another year.  It also did not forecast doomsday.  That was back in 2000, folks.  Get with the times!

Whitney Grace, January 25, 2017

HonkinNews for January 24, 2017, Now Available

January 24, 2017

Another week and another search and content processing news round up is live. This week we cover the Dark Web delivery system known as the Royal Mail. Why are some Beltway Bandits developing a sudden craving for antacids? The transition from President Obama to President Trump may be a contributing factor. Some  other government news caught out attention too; specifically. The slimming down of Darpa’s open source software catalog and the CIA Crest search for more than 10 million previously classified CIA documents. We also highlight IBM’s call for rules to make sure that artificial intelligence does not run amok. We are not sure if Big Blue is cracking the old buggy whip at speeding Teslas or if IBM has a grand plan to keep smart software on a short leash. Dear old Yahoot (sorry, I meant Yahoo or Yabba Dabba Hoot) figures in an anecdote about effective management. Yahoo USA is not able to convince Yahoo Japan that selling ivory is a bad thing. That item made it “tusk” in time for this week’s show. You can view the program at this link.

Kenny Toth, January 24, 2017

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