Cheaper Lodgings Correlated with Violence: Stats 101 at Work

July 20, 2021

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but AirBnB- and VRBO-type disruptors do. ”AirBnB Listings Lead to Increased Neighborhood Violence, Study Finds” reports:

AirBnB removes social capital from the neighborhood in the form of stable households, weakening the associated community dynamics…

The write up explains:

Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston conducted a statistical analysis of AirBnB listings and data on different types of crime in their city. Covering a period from 2011 to 2017, the team found that the more AirBnB listings were in any given neighborhood, the higher the rates of violence in that neighborhood – but not public social disorder or private conflict.

Who causes the crime? The tourists? Nah, here’s what’s allegedly happening:

the transient population diminishes how communities prevent crime.

Interesting assertion. I have a small sample: One. One home in our neighborhood became an AirBnB-type outfit. No one stayed. The house was sold to a family.

No change in the crime rate, but that may be a result of the police patrols, the work from home people who walk dogs, jog, post to Nextdoor.com, and clean the lenses on their Amazon Ring doorbells.

Insightful.

Stephen E Arnold, July 20, 2021

China Chipping Away at Chips: Progress Evident

July 7, 2021

Intel is paying a third party to fab some super duper chips using the same teeny weeny traces rumored to be used in Apple’s next gen, does-everything chip. But Intel itself is not making the chips. China, however, seems to be plugging along with its chip fabbing efforts. It seems that China is moving forward in fabrication and technology for embedding AI in silicon. Global Times reports, “Chinese Tech Giant Baidu Spins Off $2 Billion AI Chip Unit, Gears Up for Homegrown Production Amid Fierce Competition.” Does this mean the bias will now be hardwired in? Who will know until it is too late.

The chip unit Kunlun will soon become an independent company, with the Baidu chip’s chief architect as its CEO. It is hoped the move will bring Kunlun more funding and more flexibility. Shares of Baidu climbed since the announcement. The brief write-up reports:

“Kunlun chips are designed to optimize AI workload and improve cloud cost structure. The project was first announced by Baidu CEO Robin Li at Baidu AI Developer Conference in 2018. It can be widely applied in scenarios such as computer vision and natural language processing. The first generation of Kunlun chips has seen the mass production in early 2020. The second generation with the performance of three times higher than that of the first generation, will be mass produced in the second half of 2021, according to media reports. Chips, which play a crucial role in the Internet of Things era, have become a new focus of competition for China’s technology giants. The competition has intensified amid the recent global shortage of chips and the US restriction on chip supplies to Chinese companies, according to industry experts.”

We are reminded AI chips are crucial to growing fields like unmanned vehicles and cloud servers, so there is much money to be made for companies that act quickly. Will China consider such issues as the unintentional harm biased AI can wreak on individuals and society. Nope. I think in the next six to nine months, there will be harm, and it may affect outfits like Intel which are working overtime to regain some of their former glory in the Great Chip Derby.

News releases are much easier to churn out than advanced semiconductors in our opinion. Maybe Wingtech via Nexperia will buy Newport Wafer Fab. This Newport outfit is the largest chip maker in the UK? Could this be a signal that China wants to make sure it can be a player in the chip game? The answer is, “Looks like it.”

Cynthia Murrell, July 7, 2021

IBM: Watson, What Email Service Should Big Blue Use?

July 6, 2021

Watson, yes, you, IBM Watson. What mail system should IBM use? I am waiting… in the meantime:

This is a one liner offered at lunch by one of my DarkCyber researchers. This individual finds IBM amusing. I, on the other hand, feel for the company.

IBM’s 18 Month Company Wide Email System Migration Has Been a Disaster, Sources Say” may not be 100 percent spot on. However, I believe it is indeed possible that the former Big Dog of computing may have itself swimming in an Olympic sized pool filled with Schwartzs Kosher Dill Pickles.

The write up reports:

“Outlook won’t work with the new system, IBM Notes won’t work and the online email called Verse has now gone down,” a tipster told us. “Everyone has been affected and no fix is in sight.”

The write up adds:

a blog post to IBM’s internal network w3 said the migration had been planned for 18 months and that everything should go fine provided everyone follows the instructions emailed to them. Evidently, this did not happen.

Now back to my question: Watson, what email service should Big Blue user?

Answer: Proton Mail. Are you sure?

Stephen E Arnold, July 6, 2021

Intel and Its Horse Code

June 29, 2021

Do your remember the absolutely marvelous technical breakthrough of the quantum junction transformer magic technology called Horse Ridge? No, I am trying to forget too. The idea was that Intel’s cryogenic quantum chip would enable commercially viable quantum computing. The key words in these marketing announcements are “cryogenic” and “commercial.” Get out your wallet. Cryogenics can be more expensive than a $25 Arctic Freezer 7.

The new “horsey” metaphor is Horse Creek. I can’t use the phrase horse feathers again; otherwise, I risk the wrath of my seventh grade English teacher. Maybe hair, doody, drool, or blanket? I will have to give this some thought.

Intel to Create RISC-V Development Platform with SiFive P550 Cores on 7nm in 2022” is a very objective type of write up. I would like to point out that Intel has not been the leader in the tiny nanometer chip derby. In fact, I learned that a Chinese outfit named Biren Technology is getting in the 7nm graphics chip business. I remember when Chinese chip foundries were creating chips about as wide as a city sidewalk. Intel? How is that small trace stuff working out? Will there be enough water in Arizona to make the AMD Ryzen wannabes a reality?

The write up states:

Despite Intel recently committed to bringing its 7nm to market in 2023 with the compute tile for its Meteor Lake processor as its first 7nm product, we’re being told that Horse Creek silicon will be ready in 2022, which would make Horse Creek its first 7nm product. For what it is worth, it’s unlikely that the Intel RISC-V solution is tile-based, but it might be easy enough to bring a small RISC-V chip development platform to market around then. The chip is likely to be small, so that might work in favor of its costs as well. A question does remain as to whether Intel’s involvement here is purely in the hardware, or whether there will be an Intel-based software stack to go along with it.

Is this doubt? Nope. Marketing. How about horse cutlets from your local hippophagie. Better yet. Step away from an undifferentiated “horse” and hire Megan Thee Stallion and license her music and name to brand the Intel horses.l

Stephen E Arnold, June 29, 2021

Founders Forum: A Conference Report for Social Climbers, Foodies, and Auto Fans

June 21, 2021

This is a suggestion. Read “Inside the Elite UK Tech Event Attended by the Rich and Famous.” Gushing does not do justice to this news report. Here’s an example of the rock solid info you will ingest:

Branded as “something like the Davos of tech” by The Guardian newspaper, Founders Forum is put on by serial entrepreneur and investor Brent Hoberman. The former Eton and Oxford student, who co-founded Lastminute.com and the recently listed Made.com, is well-known for having one of the most impressive networks in the European tech scene. Many of his friends and investors are invited to Founders Forum each year.

What about a summary or the introductory remarks? Who gave presentations? What did the speakers say? What questions did the presenters dodge?

Zilch info.

I did learn that foods served included lobster and strawberries. Autos visible were Range Rovers (would they start?) and Teslas. Plus there was an error and a correction.

Outstanding, hard hitting, thumbtyper information. Personalities are what makes the world go round it seems. Yep, another Davos without the podcasts.

Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2021

First, a Cabinet, Then a Laptop? Quantum Computing Hype Escalates

June 21, 2021

I read “Compact Quantum Computer for Server Centers.” The write up explains:

“Our quantum computing experiments usually fill 30- to 50-square-meter laboratories,” says Thomas Monz of the University of Innsbruck. “We were now looking to fit the technologies developed here in Innsbruck into the smallest possible space while meeting standards commonly used in industry.” The new device aims to show that quantum computers will soon be ready for use in data centers. “We were able to show that compactness does not have to come at the expense of functionality,” adds Christian Marciniak from the Innsbruck team.

I think this is an interesting idea. The big radio in homes in the 1920s became the micro circuits in a mobile phone. Tiny is better. Quantum computers are going to become smaller too. A desktop device? Maybe a laptop? How about a mobile phone?

Is it important to skip over issues like software and applications, error rates, and figuring out how to know exactly what the constantly vibrating tiny things are doing?

Trivial issues obviously.

The write up explains that the ion trap in the vacuum chamber has been made smaller. That’s good. What happens if someone gives the device a hard knock? Heat? No problema. Commercial use cases? Certainly. How about word processing or calculating whether it will rain this weekend? Absolutely.

What this write up said to me was, “We are doing good stuff and we need more funding.” How many other EU quantum wizards will cite this work and generate non reproducible and non verifiable results? What? Academics fudging stuff? Never.

Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2021

Specialized Technology: Why Processing Talk Can Be Helpful to Anyone

May 7, 2021

Some specialized services companies have provided cheat sheets for audio and video intercepts. I heard that this technology was under wraps and available only to those with certain privileges. Not any longer.

An outfit at Wordcab.com can perform what once was an intelligence function for anyone with Internet access, content, and a way to pay. Navigate to Wordcab.com and sign up. The company says:

Automagically summarize all your internal meetings. Wordcab creates detailed, natural-language summaries of all your meetings and sales calls. So you can focus on people, not paper.

Thumbtypers will thrill with the use of the word “automagically.” The service can ingest a Zoom recording and generate a summary. The outputs can be tweaked, but keep in mind, this is smart software, not Maxwell Perkins reincarnated as your blue pencil toting digital servant. There’s an API so the service can be connected to whizzy distributed services and, if you have a copy of Palantir Gotham-type software, you can do some creative analysis.

The idea is that the smart software can make an iPhone toting bro or bro-ette more efficient.

The key point is that once was a secret capability is now available to anyone with an Internet connection. And to those who don’t think there is useful information in TikTok-type services. Maybe think again?

Stephen E Arnold, May 7, 2021

Making Processes Simple Is Tough Work: Just Add Features and Move On

May 3, 2021

I read “Science Shows Why Simplifying Is Hard and Complicating Is Easy.” I am generally suspicious of “science says” arguments. The reproducibility of the experiments, the statistical methods used to analyze data, and the integrity of those involved. (Remember MIT and the Jeffrey Epstein dalliance?) With these caveats in mind, let’s consider the information in the Japan Times’s article. (Note: You may have to pay to view the original article.)

The core of the write up is that making a procedure or explanation simple is not what humans do. The reasons are set forth in  a paper published in Nature by scientists from the University of Virginia. Yep, the honor system outfit. The write up states:

In eight observational studies and experiments, they found that people systematically overlook opportunities to improve things by subtracting
and default instead to adding.

One of the reported findings I noted was:

The more intriguing insight was that people became less likely to consider subtraction the more they felt “cognitive load.”

When I commuted on Highway 101 in the San Francisco area, I recall seeing wizards fiddling with computing devices whilst driving. Not a good idea, science says. Common sense? Not part of the science, gentle reader.

I noted this passage too: Then dare to dream what thoughtful subtraction could do for the real mother lodes of self-propagating complexity — the U.S. tax code springs to mind, or the European Union’s fiscal rules. We can simplify our lives, but we have to put in the work. That’s what the
philosopher Blaise Pascal captured when he apologized, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

I would have sworn that that snappy comment was the work of Mark Twain or a British Fancy Dan who allegedly said Common sense is the best sense.

Let’s add footnotes, a glossary, and marginalia. Keep stuff simple like the automatic record-the-meeting feature added to Microsoft Teams. I think this is called featuritis or what could go wrong?

Stephen E Arnold, May 3, 2021

Common Sense: Unlikely When It Comes to Software for Thumbtypers

April 28, 2021

Here is some intriguing research we should all probably consider. Sometimes, the best solution to a design problem is to remove something instead of piling more features on. However, Scientific American reports, “Our Brain Typically Overlooks this Brilliant Problem-Solving Strategy.” Perhaps the Microsoft Teams’ professionals might find value in a reduced-features approach to software. Just a suggestion.

Balance bikes that eliminate pedals instead of sporting training wheels for kids learning to ride. The elimination of traffic lights and road signs for safer streets. Solutions like these can be startling because they involve deletions instead of additions. Who would’ve thought? A pair of researchers at the University of Virginia tested their suspicion that humans tend to add elements instead of to removing them and that there is a psychological explanation. They conducted a series of observational studies that seem to confirm their hypothesis; see the write-up for those interesting details. Reporter Diana Kwon writes:

“These findings, which were published today in Nature, suggest that ‘additive solutions have sort of a privileged status—they tend to come to mind quickly and easily,’ says Benjamin Converse, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia and a co-author of the study. ‘Subtractive solutions are not necessarily harder to consider, but they take more effort to find.’ The authors ‘convincingly demonstrate that we tend to not consider subtractive solutions as much as additive ones,’ says Tom Meyvis, a consumer psychologist at New York University, who was not directly involved in the study but reviewed it and co-authored a commentary about it in Nature. While the propensity for businesses and organizations to opt for complexity rather than simplification was previously known, the novelty of this paper is that it shows that people tend toward adding new features, ‘even when subtracting would clearly be better,’ he adds. Meyvis also notes that other reasons for this effect may be a greater likelihood that additive solutions will be appreciated or the so-called sunk-cost bias, in which people continue investing in things for which time, money or effort has already been spent.”

Does this bias against subtraction cross cultures? Is it present in childhood or do we grow into it? Several questions remain to be investigated. Meanwhile, the researchers hope their findings will encourage all of us, whatever our field, to consider subtraction as well as addition when we go to make improvements or solve design problems. We might just find brilliant solutions we would otherwise have overlooked.

Cynthia Murrell, April 28, 2021

Microsoft Teams: An Interesting Message

April 27, 2021

Today my lecture will be via Zoom. The reason? Because Teams. The tweets greeted me with interesting content; for example:

We’ve confirmed that this issue [Teams spitting error messages] affects users globally.

Gobally. Okay. Now that’s a pretty fascinating statement from Microsoft, the outfit which has the ability to make it impossible for some people to play games at normal frame rates or print documents.

Very pro Microsoft online information services are explaining the oh-so-minor glitch; for example, “Microsoft Teams Down to Start the Day on the East Coast.” Without the usual rah rah, the objective news service states:

Many people struggling to use Teams see a message stating, “Operation failed with unexpected error.” As of 6:55 AM EST, reports spiked for outages from zero to 355, but they are rising quickly. Teams has millions of users, so 355 reports isn’t a dramatically high number, but the rate of change indicates an issue.

One can assume that “the rate of change indicates an issue” a pretty strong statement about the feature rich Teams’ service. Will some of the technical professionals working on the SolarWinds’ misstep be shifted to shore up the Teams mishap?

The technical issues with security, consumer updates, and Teams seem to be intractable to me. Instead of too big to fail, has Microsoft become too big to create stuff which works?

Stephen E Arnold, April 27, 2021

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