Tag Archives: IBM

Waking up 5 years late

I have had something like this, I swear it’s true. It was after I came back from the Middle East, I was more of a ‘party person’ in those days and I would party all weekend non-stop. It would start on Friday evening and I would get home Sunday afternoon. So one weekend, I had gone through the nightclub, day club, bars and Shoarma pit stops after which I went home. I went to bed and I get woken up by the telephone. It is my boss, asking me whether I would be coming to work that day. I noticed it was 09:30, I had overslept. I apologised and rushed to the office. I told him I was sorry that I had overslept and I did not expect too much nose as it was the first time that I had overslept. So the follow up question became “and where were you yesterday?” My puzzled look from my eyes told him something was wrong. It was Tuesday! I had actually slept from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning. It would be the weirdest week in a lifetime. I had lost an entire day and I had no idea how I lost a day. I still think back to that moment every now and then, the sensation of the perception of a week being different, I never got over it, now 31 years ago, and it still gets to me every now and then.

A similar sensation is optionally hitting Christine Lagarde I reckon, although if she is still hitting the party scene, my initial response will be “You go girl!

You see with “Market power wielded by US tech giants concerns IMF chief” (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/19/market-power-wielded-by-us-tech-giants-concerns-imf-chief-christine-lagarde) we see the issues on a very different level. So even as we all accept “Christine Lagarde, has expressed concern about the market power wielded by the US technology giants and called for more competition to protect economies and individuals”, we see not the message, but the exclusion. So as we consider “Pressure has been building in the US for antitrust laws to be used to break up some of the biggest companies, with Google, Facebook and Amazon all targeted by critics“, I see a very different landscape. You see as we see Microsoft, IBM and Apple missing in that group, it is my personal consideration that this is about something else. You see Microsoft, IBM and Apple have one thing in common. They are Patent Powerhouses and no one messes with those. This is about power consolidation and the fact that Christine Lagarde is speaking out in such a way is an absolute hypocrite setting for the IMF to have.

You see, to get that you need to be aware of two elements. The first is the American economy. Now in my personal (highly opposed) vision, the US has been bankrupt; it has been for some time and just like the entire Moody debacle in 2008. People might have seen in in ‘the Big Short‘, a movie that showed part of it and whilst the Guardian reported ““Moody’s failed to adhere to its own credit-rating standards and fell short on its pledge of transparency in the run-up to the ‘great recession’,” principal deputy associate attorney general Bill Baer said in the statement“, it is merely one version of betrayal to the people of the US by giving protection to special people in excess of billions and they merely had to pay a $864m penalty. I am certain that those billionaires have split that penalty amongst them. So, as I stated, the US should be seen as bankrupt. It is not the only part in this. The Sydney Morning Herald (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/how-trump-s-hair-raising-level-of-debt-could-bring-us-all-crashing-down-20180420-p4zank.html) gives us “Twin reports by the International Monetary Fund sketch a chain reaction of dangerous consequences for world finance. The policy – if you can call it that – puts the US on an untenable debt trajectory. It smacks of Latin American caudillo populism, a Peronist contagion that threatens to destroy the moral foundations of the Great Republic. The IMF’s Fiscal Monitor estimates that the US budget deficit will spike to 5.3 per cent of GDP this year and 5.9 per cent in 2019. This is happening at a stage of the economic cycle when swelling tax revenues should be reducing net borrowing to zero“. I am actually decently certain that this will happen. Now we need to look back to my earlier statement.

You see, if the US borrowing power is nullified, the US is left without any options, unless (you saw that coming didn’t you). The underwriting power of debt becomes patent power. Patents have been set to IP support. I attended a few of those events (being a Master of Intellectual Property Law) and even as my heart is in Trademarks, I do have a fine appreciation of Patents. In this the econometrics of the world are seeing the national values and the value of any GDP supported by the economic value of patents.

In this, in 2016 we got “Innovation and creative endeavors are indispensable elements that drive economic growth and sustain the competitive edge of the U.S. economy. The last century recorded unprecedented improvements in the health, economic well-being, and overall quality of life for the entire U.S. population. As the world leader in innovation, U.S. companies have relied on intellectual property (IP) as one of the leading tools with which such advances were promoted and realized. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the principal means for establishing ownership rights to the creations, inventions, and brands that can be used to generate tangible economic benefits to their owner“, as such the cookie has crumbled into where the value is set (see attached), one of the key findings is “IP-intensive industries continue to be a major, integral and growing part of the U.S. economy“, as such we see the tech giants that I mentioned as missing and not being mentioned by Christine Lagarde. It is merely one setting and there are optionally a lot more, but in light of certain elements I believe that patents are a driving force and those three have a bundle, Apple has so many that it can use those patents too buy several European nations. IBM with their (what I personally believe to be) an overvalued Watson, we have seen the entire mess moving forward, presenting itself and pushing ‘boundaries’ as we are set into a stage of ‘look what’s coming’! It is all about research, MIT and Think 2018. It is almost like Think 2018 is about the point of concept, the moment of awareness and the professional use of AI. In that IBM, in its own blog accidently gave away the goods as I see it with: “As we get closer to Think, we’re looking forward to unveiling more sessions, speakers and demos“, I think they are close, they are getting to certain levels, but they are not there yet. In my personal view they need to keep the momentum going, even if they need to throw in three more high exposed events, free plane tickets and all kinds of swag to flim flam the audience. I think that they are prepping for the events that will not be complete in an alpha stage until 2020. Yet that momentum is growing, and it needs to remain growing. Two quotes give us that essential ‘need’.

  1. The US Army signed a 33-month, $135 million contract with IBM for cloud services including Watson IoT, predictive analytics and AI for better visibility into equipment readiness.
  2. In 2017, IBM inventors received more than 1,900 patents for new cloud technologies to help solve critical business challenges.

The second is the money shot. An early estimate is outside of the realm of most, you see the IP Watchdog gave us: “IBM Inventors received a record 9043 US patents in 2017, patenting in such areas as AI, Cloud, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing technology“, the low estimate is a value of $11.8 trillion dollars. That is what IBM is sitting on. That is the power of just ONE tech giant, and how come that Christine Lagarde missed out on mentioning IBM? I’ll let you decide, or perhaps it was Larry Elliott from the Guardian who missed out? I doubt it, because Larry Elliott is many things, stupid ain’t one. I might not agree with him, or at times with his point of view, but he is the clever one and his views are valid ones.

So in all this we see that there is a push, but is it the one the IMF is giving or is there another play? The fact that banks have a much larger influence in what happens is not mentioned, yet that is not the play and I accept that, it is not what is at stake. There is a push on many levels and even as we agree that some tech giants have a larger piece of the cake (Facebook, Google and Amazon), a lot could have been prevented by proper corporate taxation, but that gets to most of the EU and the American Donald Duck, or was that Trump are all about not walking that road? The fact that Christine has failed (one amongst many) to introduce proper tax accountability on tech giants is a much larger issue and it is not all on her plate in all honesty, so there are a few issues with all this and the supporting views on all this is not given with “Lagarde expressed concern at the growing threat of a trade war between the US and China, saying that protectionism posed a threat to the upswing in the global economy and to an international system that had served countries well“, it is seen in several fields, one field, was given by The Hill, in an opinion piece. The information is accurate it is merely important to see that it has the views of the writer (just like any blog).

So with “Last December, the United States and 76 other WTO members agreed at the Buenos Aires WTO Ministerial to start exploring WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce. Those WTO members are now beginning their work by identifying the objectives of such an agreement. The U.S. paper is an important contribution because it comprehensively addresses the digital trade barriers faced by many companies“, which now underlines “A recent United States paper submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a notable step toward establishing rules to remove digital trade barriers. The paper is significant for identifying the objectives of an international agreement on digital trade“. This now directly gives rise to “the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law also requested that the new NAFTA require increased protections in trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents“, which we get from ‘Ambassador Lighthizer Urged to Include Intellectual Property Protections in New NAFTA‘ (at https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ambassador-lighthizer-urged-to-include-52674/) less than 10 hours ago. So when we link that to the quote “The proposals included: that Canada and Mexico establish criminal penalties for trade secrets violations similar to those in the U.S. Economic Espionage Act, an agreement that Mexico eliminate its requirement that trademarks be visible, a prohibition on the lowering of minimum standards of patent protection“. So when we now look back towards the statement of Christine Lagarde and her exclusion of IBM, Microsoft and Apple, how is she not directly being a protectionist of some tech giants?

I think that the IMF is also feeling the waters what happens when the US economy takes a dip, because at the current debt levels that impact is a hell of a lot more intense and the games like Moody’s have been played and cannot be played again. Getting caught on that level means that the US would have to be removed from several world economic executive decisions, not a place anyone in Wall Street is willing to accept, so that that point Pandora’s Box gets opened and no one will be able to close it at that point. So after waking up 5 years late we see that the plays have been again and again about keeping the status quo and as such the digital rights is the one card left to play, which gives the three tech giants an amount of power they have never had before, so as everyone’s favourite slapping donkey (Facebook) is mentioned next to a few others, it is the issue of those not mentioned that will be having the cake and quality venison that we all desire. In this we are in a dangerous place, even more the small developers who come up with the interesting IP’s they envisioned. As their value becomes overstated from day one, they will be pushed to sell their IP way too early, more important, that point comes before their value comes to fruition and as such those tech giants (Apple, IBM, and Microsoft) will get an even more overbearing value. Let’s be clear they are not alone, the larger players like Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, LG Electronics, Sony and Fujitsu are also on that list. The list of top players has around 300 members, including 6 universities (all American). So that part of the entire economy is massively in American hands and we see no clear second place, not for a long time. Even as the singled out tech giants are on that list, it is the value that they have that sets them a little more apart. Perhaps when you consider having a go at three of them, whilst one is already under heavy emotional scrutiny is perhaps a small price to pay.

How nice for them to wake up, I merely lost one day once, they have been playing the sleeping game for years and we will get that invoice at the expense of the futures we were not allowed to have, if you wonder how weird that statement is, then take a look at the current retirees, the devaluation they face, the amount they are still about to lose and wonder what you will be left with when you consider that the social jar will be empty long before you retire. The one part we hoped to have at the very least is the one we will never have because governments decided that budgeting was just too hard a task, so they preferred to squander it all away. The gap of those who have and those who have not will become a lot wider over the next 5 years, so those who retire before 2028 will see hardships they never bargained for. So how exactly are you served with addressing “‘too much concentration in hands of the few’ does not help economy“, they aren’t and you weren’t. It is merely the setting for what comes next, because in all this it was never about that. It is the first fear of America that counts. With ‘US ponders how it can stem China’s technology march‘ (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/us-ponders-how-it-can-stem-chinas-technology-march-20180418-h0yyaw), we start seeing that shift, so as we see “The New York Times reported on April 7 that “at the heart” of the trade dispute is a contest over which country plays “a leading role in high-tech industries”. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 12 that the US was preparing rules to block Chinese technology investment in the US, while continuing to negotiate over trade penalties“, we see the shifted theatre of trade war. It will be about the national economic value with the weight of patents smack in the middle. In that regard, the more you depreciate other parts, the more important the value of patents becomes. It is not a simple or easy picture, but we will see loads of econometrics giving their view on all that within the next 2-3 weeks.

Have a great weekend and please do not bother to wake up, it seems that Christine Lagarde didn’t bother waking up for years.

 

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Who’s Promptly Promoted?

The Guardian is giving us the news that Moody is downgrading WPP (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/17/moodys-downgrades-wpp-martin-sorrell-departure-ratings-agency-negative). It is a weird situation! You see, some do not like Sir Martin Sorrell (I personally never knew him), some like the man and some think he was a visionary. I think I would fall in the third category. There is no way that under normal situations the departure of a CEO, even a founder would have had such a massive impact when he left and let’s be clear when a departure sparks not just the downgrade of WPP, but we also see “WPP has hired a New York-based recruitment firm as it begins the global search to replace founder and chief executive“, his impact has been a hell of a lot larger than anyone is willing to admit. There are however other parts. When I see “In Moody’s view, the high-profile departure of Sir Martin Sorrell raises concerns over the future strategy and shape of the group, increases client-retention risk and could hence hinder WPP’s ability to meet its 2018 guidance“, I feel a strong desire to disagree. When we consider that within WPP is Millward Brown, TNS and IMRB, we need to acknowledge that WPP already had problems. You see, I was a partial witness to the laziness and stupidity, I saw how executives looked at presentations, were unwilling to listen and it was their right to do so, but in the end part of their market got screwed over. You see SPSS was the big analytic and as a program it is still the Bentley for analysing data. Yet beyond the program the corporation faltered. It fell to meetings, and presented concepts, yet no delivery. I still have the presentations, 1994 parallel processing, never came to be. Yet the biggest bungle was seen in 1997, when SPSS acquired Danish software company In2itive Technologies Corp. They had actual perfect software. The interface was intuitive and flawless. I was so looking forward to teaching people this software and for a while did. It was amazing to see dozens of people literally making a running start in their own designs in an hour, by the end of the day they did all kinds of things that most market researchers could not conceive. It was a jackpot acquisition. Yet SPSS had its own Data entry solution called Data Entry and apart from a few flaws it had regarding memory and larger data entry sheets, it worked really well, it was a work horse, so internally we were so happy to hear that it had become a Windows program. The backlash was Titanic in proportions. It was hard to work, the initial versions weren’t even stable, there was processing power issues, saving issues and a whole range of issues that were not solved, not even within the first year. It was all about the holy ‘Data Entry‘ and whilst the issue of the perfect In2itive was set to the sides and whilst the internal corporate marketing decided that Data entry was a ‘Form Design Program‘, the audience was left without quality Data Entry. So as I (and others) pleaded for In2Form and its suite to be evolved and set towards the users, we were told it was merely a 16 bit program, and SPSS is 32 bit and larger only (mainframes excluded). So there I was watching the mess evolve for well over 3 years whilst the redesign of a 32-bit In2itive suite would have been done in 160 days (rough estimate), no, at SPSS they really knew what they were doing. So they decided to up the ante, there was going to be a server edition of Data entry, the SPSS Data Entry Enterprise Server. I saw how the confidence of users went down further and further. Yet, the corporation did not sit still in all this and we got to see the Dimensions 2000 part, now that blew us away, we saw software on a whole new level and it was amazing. The 2 programs mrPaper, mrInterview, both truly steps forward, options to format webpages using XML so that the web interview could flawlessly fit in any corporate website. We saw the good days come back and with mrPaper we saw paper interviews with options to link to Readsoft’s scan software, so that data entry was almost a thing of the past, scan the returned interviews and reading the data with a scanner. It was not flawless, but it was really good to see a stage where government sites all over Europe could do quality interviews on many levels. Yet the program had issue as any large program had and there were more issues and they stacked up. Only then was I introduced to Surveycraft. It was an utter shock. Even as it was old, DOS based and looking like the old Data Entry, Surveycraft was miles ahead of mrDimensions. It had working quota’s it had all kinds of options that were ahead of the Quancept software in the UK, it was a shock to be a decade ahead and finding the old software visionary. SPSS had acquired it, and after that the developers managed to get less than 60% of the functionality transferred. Even later when I worked actively with it, I was finding issues that the new software never had, or it worked really badly. So when i tried to emphasize the need for new software to be made as i was no longer part of SPSS, the need for better software was essential, especially in Market Research. They decided not to listen and to believe the SPSS executives that better versions were coming soon, they never came! The entire market research industry was lucky, because other players like Tableau and Q Research software were just like me; they never trusted the SPSS executives and they now corner the market. In this the market research agencies that had the option to push forward decided to wait and basically cut themselves in the fingers and lost on two fronts. With the 2008 crash the markets changed and they lost loads of customers who had to massively trim down, it was a mere effect of events. Yet Tableau and Q-Software were still in a small stage, yet their software was for a much larger audience, so not only did the market research Industry lose customers, the two software programs allowed for mid and larger ranged corporations do it all themselves and that is what happened. Market research companies still get the larger projects, but they lost the smaller stuff, a group of revenue representing near 60% (a personal speculation) and as Tableau and Q-Software grows, the mr market is in more and more peril that is where WPP owning Millward Brown, TNS and IMRB finds itself. It takes a visionary to not merely grow the market, but to spread the options of a market. That ship has now sailed and beyond less than a dozen former SPSS people I worked with, I have merely seen a lack of vision. Some of these market research agencies are now all about ‘telling a story‘, setting the presentation that can in most cases be done with SAP Dashboards and a karaoke system. In this the only part that is still tacky is that when we want to buy the SAP solution (approximately $500) we get to see “Please contact your local SAP account executive for more information on how to buy and implement SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards“, was adding a price that much of a reach?

So as we see the pressures of one branch, we need to see that the overlap is large, even as some are in different territories we know that they are intertwined. Yet this market is also as incestuous as it gets. Lightspeed Research acquires part of Forrester (the Forrester’s Ultimate Consumer Panel business), Forrester is growing in different directions and they are all connected to some degree. There is every chance that the higher echelons will have worked in any combination of SPSS, Forrester, Lightspeed, SPSSmr and ConfirmIT. Likely they already worked in 3 of the five players. Yet the visionary growth has remained absent to a larger degree and digital media is all about evolution and implementing new technologies and new solutions to drive consumer engagement, because the future here is consumer engagement, that alone will get you the data to work with and to set the needs of the industry.

That is the part SPSS as a company ignored and now that we see the shifts, especially in WPP, we see that both Tableau and Q-software have a massive opportunity to grow their market segment even further. The moment they or a third player comes with consumer engagement software, at that point IBM will also feel the pinch, even as it hides behind Watson, options like IBM Statistics (formerly SPSS) and IBM Miner (formerly Clementine, SPSS Data Miner), they get to realise that these two programs also brought new business as the consultants were able to see the needs of the larger customers. When that diminishes, IBM will feel the loss of a lack of visionaries in a very real way. A loss only accelerated by the impacts on WPP and all its subsidiaries. This last part is speculative, but supported with data. As we saw ‘Paul Heath resigns was Ogilvy worldwide chief growth officer and non-executive director of AUNZ‘, we need to realise that the larger insightful players will be seeing more changes. Ogilvy & Mather might be merely the first one, but these people all realise that changes will be different and market shares will change, not all in favour of WPP. We can see “Heath is resigning all his titles at WPP worldwide to return to Brazil to start a new streaming tech venture“, we can read this as a positive: ‘he is going to try something new‘. Or negatively ‘he knows who is on his level at WPP‘ and he has decided that he can grow a nice personal global market share by setting his view on the new player with a promising option for mucho growth. I believe that he is setting his view to become the larger player himself. This is good news as it optionally invigorates the market research market which WPP desperately needs, yet WPP is a lot more than merely market research. It is digital advertising, a field that SPSS (read: IBM) ignored until it was too late, yet when we see some of the services: Branding & identity, Consumer insights, Design, Digital Marketing, Market research, Media planning and buying, Public relations, Relationship marketing’ all valid groups yet there is a lack of options for consumer engagement and several of the other groups are options that many offer, some in niches, some only to midrange players, but effective due to expertise. That should have been a massive red flag and reasons for alarms at WPP, yet not too much was seen there. In all a situation that does not merely warrants the downgrade by Moody’s, the fact that it was averted whilst Sir Martin Sorrell was there as CEO is an actual much larger issue then most identified.

So the problem is not merely who can replace him, but who can alter the course of failed objectives will soon become a much larger issue for WPP, which optionally pushes down the market value by a mere 5%, which considering the 2017 revenue of £15.265 billion becomes an interesting amount.

 

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Media rigging

We have had issues, massive issues for the longest of times. Now we can focus on the blatant transgressors, we can focus on the exclusion examples of good journalism like the guardian, the Independent, the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Times and the Financial Times (the Australian and non-Australian editions), yet the founding flaw is actually larger.

You see, journalism has become an issue in itself. Whatever people and participators thought it was in the 70’s is no longer the case. Perhaps it never was. In my view, journalism is no longer merely about ‘exposing’, it is about partially revealing, whilst mediating the needs of the shareholder, the stake holders and the advertisers making it a very different issue. It is there where I did not just have my issue with Microsoft, in that same setting the hands of Sony are equally tainted. They are the two visible ones; but that list is distinguished and very long. So as we see overcompensation we see it on both sides of the equation, not giving it a level of equilibrium, but an exaggerated level of grossly unsettling.

In this we have two articles. The first is directly linked to what I have been writing about so let’s start with that. The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/16/thousands-of-android-apps-may-be-illegally-tracking-children-study-finds) gives us ‘Thousands of Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds’. Now, I am not convinced that this is all limited to Android, but that is a personal feeling that has not been met with in-depth investigation, so I could most certainly be wrong on that count. What is the issue is seen with “Seven researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that the majority of them may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without a parent’s permission, the study found“,as this had been going on for years and i reported on it years ago, I am not at all surprised, yet the way that this now reaches the limelight is an issue to some degree. I am unaware what Serge Egelman has been doing with their life, but “The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done” was not a consideration in 2010, or 2009, so why is it an issue now? Is it because Osama Bin Laden is dead now (intentionally utterly unrelated)? There has been a freedom of actions, a blatant setting of non-investigation for close to a decade and even as it is now more and more clear that the issue was never ‘not there’. In February 2016 we saw (unfortunately through the Telegraph) “The security flaw in Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear meant access to a child’s name, date of birth and gender could have been easily accessed. The researchers at Rapid7, a Boston-based security company that spotted the defect, said the toy could also be hijacked to give a malicious actor control over account data and in-built functions“, so this is not new. The fact that it was the Telegraph who brought it does not make it false. And yes, I did bite my tongue to prevent the addition of ‘in this case‘ to the previous line. In addition we see (at http://www.dickinson-wright.com/news-alerts/legal-and-privacy-issues-with-connected-toys) that law firm Dickinson Wright has been on the ball since 2015, so how come that the media is lagging to such an extent? Like me, they saw the rain come and in their case it is profitable to be aware of the issues. So with “Since 2015 the technology and legal implications regarding these types of toys has only grown as the market now includes smart toys, such as Talk-to-Me Mikey, SmartToy Monkey, and Kidizoon Smartwatch DX; connected toys, such as SelfieMic and Grush; and other connected smart toys such as Cognitoys’ DINO, and My Friend Cayla“, they again show to be ahead of the curve and most of the media lagging to a much larger degree. Did you think that this was going to go away by keeping quiet? I think that the answer is clearly shown in the Post article. The most powerful statement is seen with “The researchers note that Google has worked to enforce COPPA by requiring child app developers to certify that they comply with the law. “However, as our results show, there appears to not be any (or only limited) enforcement,” the researchers said. They added that it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research to detect the apps and the developers that may be violating child privacy laws“, in this we see two parts, and the first is that the call of data value tends to nullify ethics to a much larger degree. The second is that I do not disagree with ‘it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research‘, I merely think that the people have not given Google the rights to police systems. Can we hold Microsoft responsible for every NBA gave that collects the abilities of users on that game? Should Microsoft police Electronic Arts, or 2K for that matter? The ability does not imply ‘to have the right’. Although it is a hard stance to make, we cannot go from the fact that all software developers are guilty by default, it is counterproductive. Yet in that same light, those transgressors should face multi-million dollar fines to say the least.

The final quote is a good one, but also a loaded one. With “Critics of Google’s app platform say the company and other players in the digital-advertising business, such as Facebook, have profited greatly from advances in data-tracking technology, even as regulators have failed to keep up with the resulting privacy intrusions” there is a hidden truth that also applies to Facebook. You see, they merely facilitate to give the advertiser the best value of their advertisement (like AdWords), yet the agency of advertiser only benefits from using the system. Their ad does get exposed to the best possible audience, yet the results they get back in AdWords is totally devoid of any personal data. So the advertiser sees Gender, age group location and other data, but nothing that personally identifies a person. In addition, if the ad is shown to an anonymous browser, there will be no data at all for that case.

So yes, data-tracking gives the advantage, but the privacy intrusions were not instigated by either Google or Facebook and as far as I know AdWords does not allow for such intrusions, should I be wrong than I will correct this at the earliest opportunity. Yet in all this, whilst everyone is having a go at Facebook, the media is very much avoiding Cambridge Analytica (minus one whistle-blower), other than to include them in speculations like ‘Cambridge Analytica appears to have an open contract‘, ‘Was it Cambridge Analytica that carried the day for Kenyatta‘ and ‘could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica‘. It almost reads like ‘Daily Mail reporter Sarah Vine might possibly have a vagina‘, which brings us to the second part in all this.

Invisibly linked

For the first time (I think ever) did I feel for a reporter! It was not what she said or how she said it, it was ‘Daily Mail fires reporter who inadvertently published obscenity‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/apr/16/daily-mail-removes-obscene-language-attack-on-reality-tv-stars). Now it is important that we consider two parts. the first is the blatant abuse of ‘political correctness‘ which has been putting the people at large on their rear hooves for way too long, which might also be the reason why comedians like Jimmy Carr are rising in popularity in a way we have not seen since Aristophanes wrote The Frogs in 435BC. My issue starts with “Daily Mail Australia has fired a reporter who accidentally uploaded her own “musings” about reality television contestants being “vapid cunts” on to the news website on Sunday“, so the Daily Mail does not have a draft setting that needs to be approved by the editor, no, it gets uploaded directly and even as that might be commendable. The fact that we also see “Sources at the Daily Mail earlier said the young reporter was “mortified” by the mistake“, whilst the lovers of the TV-Series Newsroom saw a similar event happen in 2014, so the fact that reality catches up with comedy and TV-Series is not merely fun, the fact that this happened in the heralded ‘Newsroom‘ should be seen as a signal. As we see “The Daily Mail reporter was writing in a Google document because of problems with the content management system and she inadvertently cut and pasted a paragraph about Bachelor in Paradise contestant Florence Alexandra which she says was written for her own eyes only, Guardian Australia understands” it is not merely about the fact on who wrote it, the mere part that the content manager part was flawed, we also see “The reporter had filed no fewer than five stories on Sunday and four on Monday, which is a normal workload for a Daily Mail journalist. It is customary for Mail reporters to upload their own copy into the system unless the story is legally contentious“. So even as we accept that the pressure is on, the system was flawed and that there was a lot of truth in her writing, and all this about a Dutch model whose fame seems to be limited to being ‘not ugly‘. So as the Daily Mail was happy to get her bum-shot and label it ‘wardrobe malfunction’ (9th September 2017), whilst in addition there has been no other transgressions, she was quite literally thrown to the wolves and out of a job. So when we do see the term ‘vapid cunts‘ (with the clever application of ‘vapid’, did the editorial consider that the term might have meant ‘a bland covering of the green envious setting of finding love and overcoming rejection‘, which we get from ‘vapid=bland‘ and ‘vagina = a sheath formed round a stem by the base of a leaf‘.

You see, in the end, this is a paper covering a reality show, a fake event created to entice an audience from living a life and wasting an hour on seeing something fake whilst they could have sought it out for real. In all this the overworked journalist gets the axe. So even if I feel a little for the journalist in this case and whilst we see that the audience replied with ‘Refreshing honesty from the Daily Mail this morning‘, which should be a real signal for the editor in change, no he threw it all out to hopefully avoid whatever would come next.

You see, even if it is not now, there are enough issues around which means that Leveson 2 might be delayed, but will still most likely happen. So even as the Telegraph is already on the ‘would be a threat to a free press‘, whilst trying to drown the reader with ‘The first Leveson inquiry cost taxpayers £5.4 million, yet the legal bill for the newspaper industry to comply with the process was far more than that‘, some journalists were up to their old tricks even before the Leveson ink dried. So in this the moment that Leveson 2 does happen, their clean desks will not be because some journalists tried to keep it clean, it will be because they were told to leave. The fact that some see Leveson 2 in relation to ‘undermining high quality journalism‘ seems to forget that high quality journalism is a thing of the past. It perhaps ended long before John Simm decided to portray a journalist in the excellent ‘State of Play‘. In all this there will be a massive blowback for the media at large, the moment it does happen, I will have every intention to get part of it set as an investigation of news that would have been considered as ‘mishandled’. There is at large enough evidence that the Sony event of 2012, the Microsoft events of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, as well as IBM 2015 and 2017. There have been too many of events that were somehow ‘filtered’. In addition to that there are not merely the data breaches, the fact that there are strong indications that the media at times, merely reported through the act of copy and paste, whilst not looking deeper into the matter. Tesco, the North Korean Sony ‘Hack’ and a few other matters that should be dug into as there are enough indications that events had faltered and faltered might be seen as the most positive way to define an event that should be seen as utterly negative.

In my view, as some editors and shareholders will try to navigate the term journalist, I would be on the horse of removing that word altogether and have those papers be subject to the full 20% VAT. I wonder how they will suddenly offer to (again) monitor themselves. Like that was a raging success the first time around. It is as I see it the price of not being held to any standards, apart from the overreacting from two unintended words, which is in my view a massive overreaction on several levels. I wonder why that was and who made the call to the editor on that, because I don’t think it was merely an overreacting Dutch model. In that I am decently convinced that she has been called a hell of a lot worse, the side effect of trying to be a ‘social media selfie darling’. Yet that is merely my point of view and I have not always been correct.

 

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Direction X

It is the Columbian (at http://www.columbian.com/news/2018/apr/15/harrop-facebook-wont-alter-its-lucrative-practices-without-regulations/) that gives us a light to work with today. A light that some US congressman and US Senators have been pushing for, so it is fun to have a go at that point of view. Now, do not mistake my opposition to it as a way to invalidate the view. I do not agree with the point of view, but many have it. So I see it as a way to inform the readers on the things that they need to know. Froma Harrop starts with three events. We see:

  • Mark Zuckerberg in 2006: “We really messed this one up. …We did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them.”
  • Zuckerberg in 2010: “Sometimes we move too fast. … We will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.”
  • Zuckerberg early this year: “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. … There’s more we can do here to limit the information developers can access and put more safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”

Now, they are valid events, but the dimensionality is missing. With the exception of certain Google products, Facebook has been the biggest evolving platform on a near daily basis, the integration with mobile apps, mobile reporting, stories, clips, annotated pictures, travelling, and so much more. Over a period of 10 years Facebook went from a dynamic page (for each user or group) to a collected omnibus of information available to all their friends. That is a level of growth that even Microsoft has not been able to compete with and in all this, there will always be mistakes. Some small and trivial and some will be bang up monsters of flaws. Compare this to Microsoft who did not push forward with its Xbox360, no it offered for sale a more powerful machine whilst trimming the functionality down by close to 20% (personal projected loss) with the shift from Xbox360 to Xbox One and Xbox One to Xbox One X. A data collecting machine of greed (whilst everyone is ignoring the data that Microsoft is uploading), pushing users like a bully, to do what they wanted the user to do or be left out. So when exactly did Facebook do that to that degree? Sony with its PlayStation at least pushed forward to some degree.

Froma makes a nice case with: “The law will require them to obtain consent for use of personal information in simple language. (Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings.)“, this is nice in contrast to some consoles (like the Sony consoles) who suddenly made it illegal to use second hand games on their consoles in their terms of service, they quietly backed away when it blew up in the faces of Microsoft. In all this, yet with my sense of humour and realising where this article was, it was not without a giggle that I took a look at the Columbia Journal of European Law (at http://cjel.law.columbia.edu/preliminary-reference/2017/mind-the-gap-loopholes-in-the-eu-data-privacy-regime/) where we see “any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that, although the information is not processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, the set is structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible“, which now leads to “This language of “specific information [that] is readily accessible” indeed was interpreted by the English courts in a manner conflicting with the Directive. In Durant v. Financial Services Authority, the English and Wales Court of Appeal formulated a two part test to evaluate whether a filing system is caught by the Directive:” and that now leaves us with “(i) [T]he files forming part of [the filing system] are structured or referenced in such a way as clearly to indicate at the outset of the search whether specific information capable of amounting to personal data [] is held within the system and, if so, in which file or files it is held; (ii) [The filing system] has, as part of its own structure or referencing mechanism, a sufficiently sophisticated and detailed means of readily indicating whether and where in an individual file or files specific criteria or information about the applicant can be readily located.

So in that case Froma is left with a piece of paper to be stationed where the sun does not shine and it merely took the case Durant v. Financial Services Authority to show its ‘lack‘ of complexity, or did it? She is right that ‘Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings, it merely took law lord Sir Robin Ernest Auld (a former Lord Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales) a hell of a lot more than a night course, more like 25 years on the bench as a lawyer, an elected judge and his ascension to lord justice of the appellant court to get it all figured out.

So as we get that out of the way we also need to look at “The companies will have to notify users of a data break-in within 72 hours of its discovery. They’ll have to give up monopoly control of the personal information; people will have the right to obtain a copy of their data and share it with others“, it took Sony a hell of a lot longer to figure out that they were breached and notify people. So now consider the breaches of Equifax (143 million), eBay (145 million), Yahoo (3 billion) and Target stores (110 million). the implication of alerting that many people is not just weird, it is actually dangerous as people tend to overreact do something stupid and lock their accounts, these 4 events could set the stage for close to 4.5 billion locked accounts. The entire 72 hours, that whilst the discovery does not guarantee that the intrusion is stopped opens the entire system up for all kinds of hackers to have a go at that victim and truly make a much bigger mess of it all. Now the people should be informed, but the entire 72 hours was (as I personally see it) pulled out of a hat. In all this the latest Facebook issue was not done by hackers, it was done by corporations who intentionally abused the system, they set their profit knowingly at the expense of the users of that system and exactly who at Cambridge Analytica is currently under arrest and in prison? It seems to me that Facebook, clearly a victim here, has made mistakes, yet the transgressors are not held to vigorous account, yet the maker of the system is. Now, let’s be clear, Mark has clearly some explaining to do. Yet, when we see “Facebook failed in an attempt to get a handle on the Cambridge Analytica scandal Monday, after British authorities ordered its auditors to vacate the political consultancy’s offices” (source: Fortune), all this whilst the offices of Cambridge Analytica ended up being raided 5 days later, I have never seen authorities giving bank robbers that level of leeway, so why was this level of freedom given to Cambridge Analytica? When we consider that this data could be transplanted to writable objects (Blu-ray) in mere hours, it seems to me that giving them 5 days to wipe the evidence is a lot more questionable than merely thumping Facebook for the flaws.

The one part I truly disagree with is “Many of us have a need to connect and share. But expecting much privacy in a business model that relies on selling your information is highly unrealistic“, you see, here we see two levels of privacy, that what the person shares, free of will and that what is accessed. In one part the privacy from the outside is partially an easy thing, because Google with AdWords has shown that to be a clear option, their advertisers can create and address a population to the granularity available, yet the results of this marketing is done in a level of aggregation, individual records per person are not available. The fact that apps could capture it was a given, but the fact that all unique identifiers were optionally possible was kept in the shadows and that is where Cambridge Analytica worked. Now, this is a generalisation, but it fits the overall issues. Facebook could have done better, yet it was massively naive when it thought that the paying corporations would not try to get their fingers on EVERY part they could. In that I wonder what data the insurance companies in the end got a hold on.

So when I see “Tech investor Jason Calacanis has set up a contest — the Open Book Challenge — to create a Facebook replacement. Finalists will be given $100,000 and residence in a 12-week incubator“, when we see it in the light of “Facebook has delivered Zuckerberg a net worth of over $60 billion” must be the easiest pickings for Jason Calacanis that any entrepreneur has ever been a part of. It is like the pyramid games after 15 rounds whilst the top person stayed on top never having to pay more than 0.0001% of the total earning, not even Las Vegas in its wildest times offered such odds.

So I am very much against regulations, it is merely a way for governments to get a hold of that data. Now I am not against that if it truly serves national security, but the fact that actual criminals and terrorists use such systems to elude identification and strike form a distance merely makes it a waste of time and most analysts know this. Now, we also know that when we know where exactly to look, Facebook could reveal stuff, but to hold those billions of accounts to optionally find merely one person is an extremely bad application of time management.

In the end, the one additional part I liked was Zuckerberg stating “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook. I run it. And I’m responsible for what happens here”. I like it because of the realisation that in all the bungles of IBM in the last 30 years, especially the PS/2 range, at what point did any of them stand up and tell their consumers that they screwed up? Especially in line of the setting that the average Model 80 (80386) computer was 400% more expensive at merely 28% of the power of a Taiwan clone, in addition the on board time clock battery has given the user more headaches than a hammer and the graphical underperformance offered should be forgotten at the drop of any hat.

So in this Zuckerberg kept his head high and in all this the entire setting of data abuse is still not addressed by either the US or UK government, in all this there is absolutely no indication that the abusers will be facing punishment or prison, so in all this the law failed the people a lot more than Facebook ever did, especially in the light of issues like this have been going on for years, but we do not get to read that part, do we?

 

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Identity denied

There are moments when we resort to other ways of expressing ourselves; it is in our nature to find alternatives to the story, so that we can tell the story. Nearly every person does it. Sometimes we ask ‘would you take that extra pastry?‘ instead of telling someone that you really feel like having another pastry. So when it comes to social media, we see not ourselves, but the person we want to be. We want to own the Hall of Faces (Game of Thrones) where we can mask ourselves with the identity of a dead person, like Ethan Hawke in Mission Impossible, walk in, sound like the person we are not, because we do not like ourselves in that particular moment. So when we look at Facebook, are we thinking the Hall of faces? In light of all that was revealed, are we in a stage where we prefer to be someone else?

You see, the shit is on the walls as some would say. Mark the Zuckyman did the right thing, he stood up (after a few days of silence) and held himself responsible and we are all over this that he is the culprit, but is he truly guilty? We see all kinds of articles on Facebook, like ‘You’ve decided to delete Facebook but what will you replace it with?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/31/youve-decided-to-delete-facebook-but-what-will-you-replace-it-with), even after a week this is still highly valid, because for millions of the multibillion users of Facebook, it has yet to sink in. Go to WhatsApp? Instagram? Both are owned by Facebook, so where does that leave you? So when we try to trivialise it with #DeleteFacebook, we need to realise that this is new territory. We now talk about the Social Media Landscape and it is not small. It is huge and most importantly, this is the first true generation of the Social media generation. We were not ready, and i have been trying to explain that to people for nearly 3 years. Now we see overreactions whilst sitting down contemplating it all was never an option. The law was missing it as it is more interested in facilitating for commerce, exploitation and profit (Sony and Microsoft are nice examples there), Human rights are failing, because the issue of Digital rights is only seen in the relation of commerce, not in the relation of privacy, in this the entire Google and the people’s rights to be forgotten is merely a reason to giggle, a Google giggle if you preferred.

The article has one funny part, with “For those determined to exit the Facebook ecosystem, the best approach is more likely to be a patchwork of sites and apps that mirror individual features. Messaging is the easiest: apps such as Telegram and Signal offer messaging and group chats, as well as voice calls, with encryption to keep your communications private. Telegram even has a thriving collection of chatbots, similar to Facebook Messenger“, you see, it is done on a smartphone (mostly), so you could consider dialing a person and have a conversation, your mum if she is still alive is not the worst idea to have. You see, the plain point is where you end up. So when we see “Part of Vero’s appeal to Facebook deleters is its determination to be ad-free. It is planning instead to start charging a small annual subscription at some point“, you see these people designed it for wealth (as one would) so where are they getting the money? The small annual subscription does make sense, but in light of that you better remember where all your data is and even as we see ‘emphasis on privacy‘ we need to realise that there are clear situations where the word Privacy is open to suggestion. What people forget is that ‘The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes‘, so are their settings of what is private the same as yours? Also, when they sell their company for a mere 2 billion, make no mistake, the word privacy is not open for debate, it will be whatever the new owner decides it to be. This is merely one side of data, as data is currency. That is what I have been trying to explain to nearly everyone (for 5 years now) and they all shrugged and stated, ‘it’ll be right‘, so is it right? Is it all right now? If you are considering becoming a member of the growing party of #DeleteFacebook it clearly was not.

So when we are treated to ‘News of Facebook’s secret tool to delete executive messages caps days of chaos‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/06/facebook-using-secret-tool-to-delete-messages-from-executives) we see another part of Facebook, we see new uproar. The question is whether this is justified. You see, when we see “the company has a two-tiered privacy standard (one for executives, one for everyone else) and over its use of facial recognition software“, in most cases this makes perfect sense. Corporate executives tend to be under scrutiny a lot, as it sometimes is valid; they still have a job to be done. I was amazed on how many people Mark Zuckerberg was connected to in the beginning of Facebook. It was awesome and cool, but I reckoned that it was not always constructive to productivity. I have been in places where the executives had their own server for a number of reasons, mostly for HR reasons and whether it is valid or not, it is a corporate decision, in that light I am not amazed, only when I was doing work for Google was I on a system where I could see everything and everyone all including what I thought was the board of directors. Here is where it gets interesting, because Google has a (what we refer to) a true open system for all who work there. It is invigorating to get access to so much information and my first night was me dreaming of combining things, what if we did ….. and ….. would we then be able to …..? It was exhilarating to feel that rush of creativity, in areas where I had no skill levels to boot. With a ‘closed’ system like Facebook, we need to consider that by setting the state of all is open that it is a legal trap when you give billions of people access to systems and situations. The mere legal differences between the UK, US and AUS, all common law nations would be the legal nightmare of decades. Shielding the executives from that is a first priority, because without them at the wheel it all falls to chaos.

That reality is seen with “Facebook says the change was made following the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, when a mass data breach at the movie studio resulted in embarrassing email histories being leaked for a number of executives, ultimately costing co-chair Amy Pascal her job“, some might remember the mail that George Clooney send in regards to the Monuments Man, it made pretty much all the papers. I love his work, I enjoy the artistic values he has, shares and embodies, but without certain levels of privacy and shielding his artistic side might take a large dump towards uncertainty, not a side I am hoping for, because even as he is merely 360 days older than me, he should be able to create another 30 years of movie excellence and I would like to see those movies, especially as we see that he is doing to Matt Damon in Suburbicon, what the Coen brothers were doing to him in Burn after reading and Hail, Caesar!, so plenty of fun times ahead for all us movie fans.

Even as we are all looking where we want to go next, the foundation of issues remain. There is an utter lack of Social media legislation; there is a mess of issues on where privacy is and what is to be regarded as privacy. The users gave it all away when they signed up for options, apps and ‘solutions’ again and again. Until that is settled, any move we make moves the issue and moves the problems, it will not solve anything, no matter what some of the app developers decide to state. In the third part “‘The third era of Zuck’: how the CEO went from hero to humiliation” (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/06/mark-zuckerberg-public-image-cambridge-analytica-facebook), I think he got kicked in the head real hard, but not humiliated, although he might think he was. So as we recall Dean Martin with Ain’t That a Kick in the Head? we need to realise that is what happens. That is what happens when Social media becomes a multi-billion user behemoth. Mark Zuckerberg made mistakes plain and simple. What do you do? You get up from the floor, fix it and restore the need for growth. And now still we see that mistakes are made. This is seen with “On Friday morning, the company apologized and pledged to stop deleting executives’ messages until they could make the same functionality available to everyone“, the largest mistake and it opens social media to all kinds of organised crime. Merely send the threat, tell the people to do …. or else and after an hour, after it is seen to have been read, the message is deleted, it becomes a miscommunication and no prosecution is possible.

That is the biggest mistake of all, to set a multi-billion user group open to the needs of organised crime even further then it likely is. How stupid is that? You see, as I interpret this, both Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg are in the musical chair setting, trying to do things on the fly and that will hurt them a lot more than anything else. We get it that mistakes were made, fix them, but not on the fly and not just quick jumps overnight. Someone has pushed them into defence play and they actually suck at that. It is time for them to put their foot down and go into offensive and attack mode (pun intended). When we consider what was before, we get it that Zuckerberg made mistakes and he will make more. We merely need to look at Microsoft and their actions over the last 3 decades to see that they screwed to pooch even more royally than Zuckerberg will be able to do, but the media is silent there as it relies on Microsoft advertiser funds. IBM and Apple have made their blunders in the past as well, yet they all had one large advantage, the impact was never towards billions of users, it potentially could have hit them all, but it mostly just a much smaller group of people, that was their small blessing. Apple directly hurt me and when I lost out on $5500, I merely got a ‘C’est la vie‘ from their technical centre, so screw that part!

There will be a large change sooner rather than later, the issue with Cambridge Analytica was too large to not make that happen. I merely hope that Zuckerberg has his ducks on a row when he makes the jump, in addition to that was Steve Bannon arrested? Especially when we consider Article 178, violating the Free decision of Voters. You see, it is not that simple, social media has never been used in that way, to such an extent, the law is unclear and proving that what Cambridge Analytica did would constitute a clear violation of the free decision of voters, that is what makes this a mess, legislation on a global scale has failed when it came to privacy and options regarding the people in social media. Steve Bannon can keep on smiling because of all the visibility he will get for years to come and after years when no conviction comes, he can go on the ‘I told you so!‘ horse and ride of wealthy into the sunset. That situation needs to be rectified and it needs to go way beyond Facebook, the law itself has faltered to a much larger degree.

The fact that politicians are all about terror cells and spilling inflammatory messages whilst having no resolution on any of this is merely showing what a bunch of apes they have proven themselves to be. So when we saw in January ‘Facebook, Google tell Congress they’re fighting extremist content‘, where were these congressmen? Where the fuck was Clint Watts, the Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and National Security analyst as CNN now reports that optionally 78 million records have been pushed onto the Russian servers? (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/08/politics/cambridge-analytica-data-millions/index.html), now implying that Cambridge Analytica has undermined US safety and security in one operation to a much larger extent than any terrorist has been able to achieve since September 13th 2001. That is 17 years of figments, against one political setting on the freedom to choose. I wonder how Clint Watts can even validate his reasoning to attend the US Congress at all. And this goes way beyond the US; in this the European Commission could be regarded as an even larger failure in all this. But it is unlikely we ever get treated to that side of the entire show.

The media needs both players a lot more and bashing Facebook makes for good entertainment they reckon. Time will tell whether they were right, or that the people at large just never cared, we merely end up having no social media identity, it will have been denied for reasons that were never real in the first place.

 

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The sting of history

There was an interesting article on the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43656378) a few days ago. I missed it initially as I tend to not dig too deep into the BBC past the breaking news points at times. Yet there it was, staring at me and I thought it was rather funny. You see ‘Google should not be in business of war, say employees‘, which is fair enough. Apart from the issue of them not being too great at waging war and roughing it out, it makes perfect sense to stay away from war. Yet is that possible? You see, the quote is funny when you see ‘No military projects‘, whilst we are all aware that the internet itself is an invention of DARPA, who came up with it as a solution that addressed “A network of such [computers], connected to one another by wide-band communication lines [which provided] the functions of present-day libraries together with anticipated advances in information storage and retrieval and [other] symbiotic functions“, which let to ARPANET and became the Internet. So now that the cat is out of the bag, we can continue. The objection they give is fair enough. When you are an engineer who is destined to create a world where everyone communicates to one another, the last thing you want to see is “Project Maven involves using artificial intelligence to improve the precision of military drone strikes“. I am not sure if Google could achieve it, but the goal is clear and so is the objection. The BBC article show merely one side, when we go to the source itself (at https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1254719/project-maven-to-deploy-computer-algorithms-to-war-zone-by-years-end/), in this I saw the words from Marine Corps Colonel Drew Cukor: “Cukor described an algorithm as about 75 lines of Python code “placed inside a larger software-hardware container.” He said the immediate focus is 38 classes of objects that represent the kinds of things the department needs to detect, especially in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria“. You see, I think he has been talking to the wrong people. Perhaps you remember the project SETI screensaver. “In May 1999 the University of California launched SETI@Home. SETI stands for the” Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” Originally thought that it could at best recruit only a thousand or so participants, more than a million people actually signed up on the day and in the process overwhelmed the meager desktop PC that was set aside for this project“, I remember it because I was one of them. It is in that trend that “SETI@Home was built around the idea that people with personal computers who often leave them to do something else and then just let the screensaver run are actually wasting good computing resources. This was a good thing, as these ‘idle’ moments can actually be used to process the large amount of data that SETI collects from the galaxy” (source: Manilla Times), they were right. The design was brilliant and simple and it worked better than even the SETI people thought it would, but here we now see the application, where any android (OK, IOS too) device created after 2016 is pretty much a supercomputer at rest. You see, Drew Cukor is trying to look where he needs to look, it is a ‘flaw’ he has as well as the bulk of all the military. You see, when you look for a target that is 1 in 10,000, so he needs to hit the 0.01% mark. This is his choice and that is what he needs to do, I am merely stating that by figuring out where NOT to look, I am upping his chances. If I can set the premise of illuminating 7,500 false potential in a few seconds, his job went from a 0.01% chance to 0.04%, making his work 25 times easier and optionally faster. Perhaps the change could eliminate 8,500 or even 9,000 flags. Now we are talking the chances and the time frame we need. You see, it is the memo of Bob Work that does remain an issue. I disagree with “As numerous studies have made clear, the department of defense must integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning more effectively across operations to maintain advantages over increasingly capable adversaries and competitors,“. The clear distinction is that those people tend to not rely on a smartphone, they rely on a simple Nokia 2100 burner phone and as such, there will be a complete absence of data, or will there be? As I see it, to tackle that, you need to be able to engage is what might be regarded as a ‘Snippet War‘, a war based on (a lot of) ‘small pieces of data or brief extracts‘. It is in one part cell tower connection patterns, it is in one part tracking IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) codes and a part of sim switching. It is a jumble of patterns and normally getting anything done will be insane. Now what happens when we connect 100 supercomputers to one cell tower and mine all available tags? What happens when we can disseminate these packages and let all those supercomputers do the job? Merely 100 smart phones or even 1,000 smart phones per cell tower. At that point the war changes, because now we have an optional setting where on the spot data is offered in real time. Some might call it ‘the wet dream’ of Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor and he was not ever aware that he was allowed to adult dream to that degree on the job, was he?

Even as these people are throwing AI around like it is Steven Spielberg’s chance to make a Kubrick movie, in the end it is a new scale and new level of machine learning, a combination of clustered flags and decentralised processing on a level that is not linked to any synchronicity. Part of this solution is not in the future, it was in the past. For that we need to read the original papers by Paul Baran in the early 60’s. I think we pushed forward to fast (a likely involuntary reaction). His concept of packet switching was not taken far enough, because the issues of then are nowhere near the issues of now. Consider raw data as a package and the transmission itself set the foundation of the data path that is to be created. So basically the package becomes the data entry point of raw data and the mobile phone processes this data on the fly, resetting the data parameters on the fly, giving instant rise to what is unlikely to be a threat and optionally what is), a setting where 90% could be parsed by the time it gets to the mining point. The interesting side is that the container for processing this could be set in the memory of most mobile phones without installing stuff as it is merely processing parsed data, not a nice, but essentially an optional solution to get a few hundred thousand mobiles to do in mere minutes what takes a day by most data centres, they merely receive the first level processed data, now it is a lot more interesting, as thousands are near a cell tower, that data keeps on being processed on the fly by supercomputers at rest all over the place.

So, we are not as Drew states ‘in an AI arms race‘, we are merely in a race to be clever on how we process data and we need to be clever on how to get these things done a lot faster. The fact that the foundation of that solution is 50 years old and still counts as an optional way in getting things done merely shows the brilliance of those who came before us. You see, that is where the military forgot the lessons of limitations. As we shun the old games like the CBM 64, and applaud the now of Ubisoft. We forget that Ubisoft shows to be graphically brilliant, having the resources of 4K camera’s, whilst those on the CBM-64 (Like Sid Meier) were actually brilliant for getting a workable interface that looked decent as they had the mere resources that were 0.000076293% of the resources that Ubisoft gets to work with me now. I am not here to attack Ubisoft, they are working with the resources available, I am addressing the utter brilliance of people like Sid Meier, David Braben, Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux and a few others for being able to do what they did with the little they had. It is that simplicity and the added SETI@Home where we see the solutions that separates the children from the clever Machine learning programmers. It is not about “an algorithm of about 75 lines of Python code “placed inside a larger software-hardware container.”“, it is about where to set the slicer and how to do it whilst no one is able to say it is happening whilst remaining reliable in what it reports. It is not about a room or a shopping mall with 150 servers walking around the place, it is about the desktop no one notices who is able to keep tabs on those servers merely to keep the shops safe that is the part that matters. The need for brilliance is shown again in limitations when we realise why SETI@Home was designed. It opposes in directness the quote “The colonel described the technology available commercially, the state-of-the-art in computer vision, as “frankly … stunning,” thanks to work in the area by researchers and engineers at Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a $36 billion investment last year across commercial industry“, the people at SETI had to get clever fast because they did not get access to $36 billion. How many of these players would have remained around if it was 0.36 billion, or even 0.036 billion? Not too many I reckon, the entire ‘the technology available commercially‘ would instantly fall away the moment the optional payoff remains null, void and unavailable. $36 billion investment implies that those ‘philanthropists’ are expecting a $360 billion payout at some point, call me a sceptic, but that is how I expect those people to roll.

The final ‘mistake’ that Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor makes is one that he cannot be blamed for. He forgot that computers should again be taught to rough it out, just like the old computers did. The mistake I am referring to is not an actual mistake, it is more accurately the view, the missed perception he unintentionally has. The quote I am referring to is “Before deploying algorithms to combat zones, Cukor said, “you’ve got to have your data ready and you’ve got to prepare and you need the computational infrastructure for training.”“. He is not stating anything incorrect or illogical, he is merely wrong. You see, we need to realise the old days, the days of the mainframe. I got treated in the early 80’s to an ‘event’. You see a ‘box’ was delivered. It was the size of an A3 flatbed scanner, it had the weight of a small office safe (rather weighty that fucker was) and it looked like a print board on a metal box with a starter engine on top. It was pricey like a middle class car. It was a 100Mb Winchester Drive. Yes, 100Mb, the mere size of 4 iPhone X photographs. In those days data was super expensive, so the users and designers had to be really clever about data. This time is needed again, not because we have no storage, we have loads of it. We have to get clever again because there is too much data and we have to filter through too much of it, we need to get better fast because 5G is less than 2 years away and we will drown by that time in all that raw untested data, we need to reset our views and comprehend how the old ways of data worked and prevent Exabyte’s of junk per hour slowing us down, we need to redefine how tags can be used to set different markers, different levels of records. The old ways of hierarchical data was too cumbersome, but it was fast. The same is seen with BTree data (a really antiquated database approach), instantly passing through 50% data in every iteration. In this machine learning could be the key and the next person that comes up with that data solution would surpass the wealth of Mark Zuckerberg pretty much overnight. Data systems need to stop being ‘static’, it needs to be a fluidic and dynamic system, that evolves as data is added. Not because it is cleverer, but because of the amounts of data we need to get through is growing near exponentially per hour. It is there that we see that Google has a very good reason to be involved, not because of the song ‘Here come the drones‘, but because this level of data evolution is pushed upon nearly all and getting in the thick of things is when one remains the top dog and Google is very much about being top dog in that race, as it is servicing the ‘needs’ of billions and as such their own data centres will require loads of evolution, the old ways are getting closer and closer to becoming obsolete, Google needs to be ahead before that happens, and of course when that happens IBM will give a clear memo that they have been on top of it for years whilst trying to figure out how to best present the delays they are currently facing.
 

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A windmill concussion

That was the first thought I had whilst looking at the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/01/eu-facebook-google-youtube-twitter-extremist-content) where Andrus Ansip was staring back at me. So the EU is giving Facebook and Google three months to tackle extremist content. In what relation is that going to be a workable idea? You see, there are dozens of ways to hide and wrongfully classify video and images. To give you an idea of what Mr Ansip is missing, let me give you a few details.

YouTube
300 hours of video is uploaded every minute.
5 billion videos watched per day.
YouTube gets over 30 million visits a day.

Facebook
500+ terabytes of data added each day.
300 million photos per day
2.5 billion pieces of content added each day

This is merely the action of 2 companies. We have not even looked at Snapchat, Twitter, Google+, Qzone, Instagram, LinkedIn, Netlog and several others. The ones I mentioned have over 100,000,000 registered users and there are plenty more of that size. The largest issue is not the mere size, it is that in Common Law any part of Defamation and the defence of dissemination becomes a player in all this, in Australia it is covered in section 32 of the Defamation Act 2005, the UK, the US and pretty much every Common Law nation has its own version of it, so the EU is merely setting the trend of all the social media hubs to move out of the EU and into the UK, which is good for the UK. The European courts cannot just blanket approve this, because it is in its core an attack on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of expression. I agree that this is just insane, but that is how they had set it up for their liberal non-accountable friends and now that it works against them, they want to push the responsibility onto others? Seems a bit weird does it not? So when we see “Digital commissioner Andrus Ansip said: “While several platforms have been removing more illegal content than ever before … we still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens’ security, safety and fundamental rights.”“, my question becomes whether the man has any clue what he is doing. Whilst the EC is hiding behind their own propaganda with “European governments have said that extremist content on the web has influenced lone-wolf attackers who have killed people in several European cities after being radicalised“, it pretty much ignored the reality of it all. When we look to the new-tech (at https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/18/15330042/tumblr-cabana-video-chat-app-announced-launches-ios), where a solution like Cabana allows for video and instructions whilst screen does not show an image of the watchers, but a piece of carton with texts like “مجنون”, “الجن”, “عسل”, “نهر”, “جمل” and “تاجر”. How long until the threshold of ‘extreme video‘ is triggered? How long until the system figures out that the meeting ended 3 weeks ago and that the video had encryption?

It seems to me that Andrus Ansip is on a fool’s errant. An engineering graduate that went into politics and now he is in a place where he is aware but not clued in to the extent he needs to be (OK that was a cruel comparison by me). In addition, I seriously doubt that he has the largest clue on the level of data parsing that such systems require to be, not merely to parse the data but systems like that will raise false flags, even at 0.01% false flags, that means sifting through 50Mb of data sifted through EVERY DAY. And that is not taking into account, framed Gifs, instead of video of JPG, or text, languages and interpreting text as extreme, so there will be language barriers as well. So in all this even with AI and machine learning, you would need to get the links. It becomes even more complex when Facebook or YouTube start receiving 4chan Video URL’s. So when I see “and other internet companies three months to show that they are removing extremist content more rapidly“, I see the first piece of clear evidence that the European Commission has lost control, they have no way of getting some of this done and they have no option to proceed. They have gone into blame mode with the ultimatum: ‘Do this or else‘. They are now going through the issues that the UK faced in the 60’s with Pirate radio. I remember listening to Radio Caroline in the evening, and there were so many more stations. In that regard, the movie The Boat That Rocked is one that Andrus Ansip should watch. He is the Sir Alistair Dormandy, a strict government minister who endeavours to shut down pirate radio stations in all this. A role nicely played by Kenneth Brannagh I might add. The movie shows just how useless the current exercise is. Now, I am all for finding solutions against extremist video, but when you consider that a small player like Heavy.com had an extreme video online for well over a year (I had the link in a previous article), whilst having no more than a few hundred video’s a week and we see this demand. How ludicrous is the exercise we see now?

The problem is not merely the online extremist materials, it is also the setting of when exactly it becomes ‘extremist‘, as well as realising that when it is a link that goes to a ‘dedicated’ chat group the lone wolves avoid all scrutiny and nothing is found until it is much too late, yet the politicians are hiding behind this puppet presentation, because that is what they tend to do.

So when we look at “It also urged the predominantly US-dominated technology sector to adopt a more proactive approach, with automated systems to detect and remove illegal content, something Facebook and Google have been pushing as the most effective way of dealing with the issue. However, the European Digital Rights group described the Commission’s approach as putting internet giants in charge of censoring Europe, saying that only legislation would ensure democratic scrutiny and judicial review“, we see dangers. That is because, ‘automated systems aren’t‘, ‘censoring can’t‘ and ‘democratic scrutiny won’t‘; three basic elemental issues we are confronted with for most of our teenage life and after that too. So there are already three foundational issues with a system that has to deal with more stored data than we have seen in a history spanning 20 years of spam, yet here we see the complication that we need to find the needle in a field full of haystacks and we have no idea which stack to look in, whether the needle is a metal one and how large it is. Anyone coming to you with: ‘a simple automated system is the solution’ has no idea on what a solution is, has no idea how to automate it and has never seen the scope of data in the matter, so good luck with that approach!

So when we are confronted with “The UK government recently unveiled its own AI-powered system for tackling the spread of extremist propaganda online, which it said would be offered to smaller firms that have seen an increase in terrorist use as they seek to avoid action by the biggest US firms“, I see another matter. You see, the issues and options I gave earlier are already circumventing to the larger degree “The technology could stop the majority of Isis videos from reaching the internet by analysing the audio and images of a video file during the uploading process, and rejecting extremist content“, what is stated (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/feb/13/home-office-unveils-ai-program-to-tackle-isis-online-propaganda), until that upload solution is pushed to 100% of all firms, so good luck with that. In equal measure we see “The AI technology has been trained by analysing more than 1,000 Isis videos, automatically detecting 94% of propaganda with a 99.99% success rate” and here I wonder that if ISIS changes its format, and the way it gives the information (another reference to the Heavy.com video), will the solution still work or will the makers need to upgrade their video solution.

They are meaningless whilst chasing our tails in this and even as I agree that a solution is required, we see the internet as an open system where everyone is watching the front door, but when one person enters the building through the window, the solution stops working. So what happens when someone starts making a new codec encoder that has two movies? Remember the old ‘gimmicky‘ multi angle DVD’s? Was that option provided for? how about video in video (picture in picture variant), the problem there is that with new programming frameworks it becomes easier to set the stage into multi-tier productions, not merely encoding, but a two stage decoder where only the receiver can see the message. So the setting of “extremist content on the web has influenced lone-wolf attackers who have killed people in several European cities after being radicalised” is unlikely to be stopped, moreover, there is every chance that they never became a blip on the radar. In that same setting when we see “If the platform were to process 1m randomly selected videos, only 50 would require additional human review“, from the Daily statistics we get that 300 hours of video is uploaded every minute, so in that regard, we get a total of 26 million hours of video to parse, so if every movie was 2 minutes, we get to parse 21 million videos every day and that means over 1000 movies require vetting every day, from merely one provider. Now that seems like an optional solution, yet what if the signal changes? What if the vetting is a much larger problem? Don’t forget it is not merely extremist videos that get flagged, but copyrighted materials too. When we see that the average video length was 4 minutes and 20 seconds, whilst the range is between 42 seconds and 9:15, how will the numbers shift? This is a daily issue and the numbers are rising, as well as the providers and let’s not forget that this is ONE supplier only. That is the data we are confronted with, so there are a whole lot of issues that are not covered at all. So the two articles read like the political engines are playing possum with reality. And all this is even before the consideration that a hostile player could make internet servers available for extremists, the dark web that is not patrolled at all (read: almost impossible to do so) as well as lazy IT people who did not properly configure their servers and an extremist sympathiser has set up a secondary non indexed domain to upload files. All solutions where the so called anti-ISIS AI has been circumvented, and that is merely the tip of the iceberg.

So I have an issue with the messaging and the issues presented by those who think they have a solution and those who will callously blame the disseminators in all this, whilst the connected players know that this was never a realistic exercise in any part of this, merely the need and the desire to monitor it all and the articles given show that they are clueless (to some extent), which is news we never wanted ISIS to know in the first place. In that regard, when we see news that is a year old, where ISIS was mentioned that they use Twitter to recruit, merely through messaging and monitoring, we see another part where these systems have failed, because a question like that could be framed in many ways. It is almost the setting where the creative mind can ask more questions than any AI can comprehend, that first realisation is important to realise how empty the entire setting of these ‘solutions’ are, In my personal view is that Andrus Ansip has a job that has become nothing more than a temporary castle in the sand before it is washed away by the tide. It is unlikely that this is his choice or desire, but that is how it has become, and there is supporting evidence. Take a look at the Washington Post article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/09/25/absolutely-everything-you-need-to-know-to-understand-4chan-the-internets-own-bogeyman/?utm_term=.35c366cd91eb), where we see “participants can say and do virtually anything they want with only the most remote threat of accountability“, more important, monitoring that part is not impossible yet would require large resources, 4chan is equally a worry to some extend and what happens when ISIS merely downloads a 4chat or 4chan skeleton and places it on the dark web? There is close to no options to ever find them at that point, two simple acts to circumvent the entire circus, a part that Andrus Ansip should have (and he might have) informed the EC commissioners on, so we see the waste of large amounts of money and in the end there will be nothing to show for. Is that what we want to happen to keep ourselves safe? So when the ISIS person needs nothing but a mobile phone and a TOR browser how will we find them and stop the content? Well, there is a two letter word for that. NO! It ain’t happening baby, a mere realisation that can be comprehended by most people in the smallest amount of time.

By the way, when 5G hits us in less than 18 months, with the speeds, the bandwidth and the upload options as well as additional new forms if media, which optionally means new automated forms of Social Media, how much redesign will be required? In my personal book this reads like: “the chance that Europe will be introduced to a huge invoice for the useless application of a non-working solution, twice!” How you feel about that part?

In my view it is not about stopping the upload, it is about getting clever on how the information reaches those who desire, want and optionally need the information. We need to get a grip on that reality and see how we can get there, because the current method is not working. In that regard we can take a grip towards history, where in the Netherlands Aage Meinesz used a thermal lance to go through the concrete next to the vault door, he did that in the early 70’s. So when we see the solutions we saw earlier, we need to remember that this solution only works until 10 seconds after someone else realises that there was a way to ignore the need of an upload, or realise that the system is assuming certain parts. You only need to look through Fatal Vision Alcohol goggles once, to realise that it does not only distort view, it could potentially be used to counter a distorted view, I wonder how those AI solutions comprehend that and consider that with every iteration accuracy decreases, human intervention increases and less gets achieved, some older gimmicks in photography relied on such paths to entice the watchers (like the old Betty Page books with red and green glasses). I could go on for hours, and with every other part more and more flaws are found. In all this it is equally a worry to push this onto those tech companies. It is the old premise of being prepared for that what you do not know, that what you cannot see and that what is not there. The demand of the conundrum, one that Military Intelligence was faced with for over 30 years and the solution needs to be presented in three months.

The request has to be adhered to in three months, it is ludicrous and unrealistic, whilst in addition the demands shows a level of discrimination as there is a massive size of social media enablers that are not involved; there are creators of technology providers that are not accountable to any level. For example Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and IBM (as they are not internet companies), yet some of them proclaim their Deep Blue, Azure and whatever other massive data mining solution provider in a box for ‘everyone’, so where are they in all this? When we consider those parts, how empty is the “face legislation forcing them to do so” threat?

It becomes even more hilarious, when you consider the setting in full, so Andrus Ansip, the current European Commissioner for Digital Single Market is giving us this, whilst we see (at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/digital-single-market_en) that the European Commission for Digital single market has there on its page the priority for ‘Bringing down barriers to unlock online opportunities’, which they use to create barriers, preferably flexible barriers and in the end it is the creation on opportunities for a very small group of designers and whilst we see that ‘protect children and tackle hate speech‘ is the smallest part of one element in a setting with 7 additional setting on a much larger scale. It seems to me that in this case Andrus Ansip is trying to extent his reach by the size of a continent, it does not add up on several sides, especially when you consider that the documents setting in that commission has nothing past September 2017, which makes the entire setting of pushing social media tech groups as a wishful thinking one, and one that was never realistic to begin with, it’s like he merely chasing windmills, just like Don Quichotte.

 

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