Friday, March 03, 2017

A challenge for my students.  How do you avoid this in the future? 
When Amazon Makes a Mistake, Expect a Prompt, Overly Detailed Response
On Tuesday, many websites and services, including Medium, Slack and Business Insider, were either not working or working very slowly.  It turns out, these websites, and many others, utilize Amazon's cloud storage service S3, which suffered "high error rates" that day.
As Wired points out, "the internet is actually pretty brittle."
To explain the outage, Amazon today issued a dense, technical statement.  In it, the company says the issue stemmed from a programmer entering a command incorrectly.  It's scary to think that's all it takes to bring down part of the internet.  If you have the technical chops to understand it, here's the full statement:

That’s why “it is better to look good than to feel good!” 
Andrew Boyd reports:
Wearing a fitness tracking device could earn you cash from your health insurance company.  At first, this sounds lucrative for the people who participate, and good for the companies, who want healthier insurance customers.  But it’s not quite so simple.
Under the program, people who have certain health insurance coverage plans with UnitedHealthcare can elect to wear a Fitbit activity tracker and share their data with the insurance company.  The data would be analyzed by Qualcomm Life, a company that processes medical data from wireless sensors for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.  Depending on how active participants are, as measured by the Fitbit, they could earn as much as US $1,500 toward health care services each year.
Read more on TruthOut to find out the potential down side, particularly in light of the political climate and changes the current Congress may try to make in insurance requirements, etc.

Surprising how many of my classes this touches.
Announcing the new EDRM website
by on
“EDRM, the leading standards organization for the e-discovery market, announced today the launch of a newly designed website at  The redesign was initiated to reflect the new relationship with and branding of Duke Law School.  Duke Law acquired EDRM in August 2016.
“As the home for e-discovery resources and education, the new website is the heart of EDRM,” says Jim Waldron, deputy director of EDRM, which operates out of the Center for Judicial Studies at Duke Law.  “EDRM members and public visitors come to the site over 15,000 times per month to participate in the development of new standards and guidelines, download practical tools and checklists to accomplish their professional work and learn about e-discovery.  We have an ambitious agenda for EDRM in 2017, and the new website will support collaboration among team members working on TAR/analytics, cross-border discovery, and other initiatives.”
In addition to the iconic Electronic Discovery Reference Model, a visual model of the phases of electronic discovery from information governance through presentation of evidence, EDRM develops related e-discovery and information governance frameworks and publishes them on the site.
The Resources section of the site offers practical tools for use in planning, preparation and execution of e-discovery processes, including:
Calculators for budgeting, data calculation, RFP comparison
Data privacy and protection laws
A variety of datasets for use in product testing, demonstration and training
A reference collection of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and related articles, presentations and commentary
Glossaries of e-discovery terms
Educational webinar videos on a wide range of topics
E-discovery project guides and white papers…”

The business of AI?  Why my AI is smarter than your AI. 
Ozlo finally reveals a business model for its AI training app
   Founded by Charles Jolley and Michael Hanson, the former head of Android platform development at Facebook and principal engineer at Mozilla Corp. respectively, Ozlo is three years in the making.  Today the startup unveiled its open index of knowledge, now available to the business world for training the likes of chatbots, digital assistants and intelligent machines.
   Released as a set of three application programming interfaces, Ozlo’s knowledge index contains over two billion data points on topics ranging from movies to restaurants and bars to the smart home, and specializes in real world interactions.  The APIs cover data extraction, intent recognition and conversion actions, all designed to understand and close the deal on business-to-consumer transactions.  Instead of narrow, fact-based responses to user queries, Ozlo’s spectrum view of relational data hopes to provide more practical answers to everyday questions.

Isn’t it enough that our computers (smartphones) want to talk to us?  Now they want us to watch them being ‘cute’ for our amusement?  (Probably won’t fit on your dashboard.)
With a Siri rival and a holographic girlfriend, Line makes a big AI push
Messaging app Line is set to make a big push into AI, later this year rolling out a Siri-esque voice assistant and an Amazon Alexa-style smart speaker, the Japanese company announced yesterday at Mobile World Congress.
“AI is our most important project at Line, and represents a paradigm shift as dramatic as the rise of the smartphone a decade ago,” said CEO Takeshi Idezawa.
Line’s answer to Siri is called Clova, short for “cloud virtual assistant.”  Its speaker, Wave, will also feature the AI assistant.
Both will launch “early summer” in Japan and South Korea.
Line also announced it has acquired a controlling stake in the Japanese startup behind a holographic anime bot designed as a companion for lonely salarymen and anime-obsessed otaku.  The financial details were not revealed.

Perhaps I should be writing software for the Intelligence Community?
Agility in US national security
by on
McKinsey – Book Excerpt – March 2017  -“The shift continues from the manufacturing economy of the industrial age to the digital economy of the information age, US national-security organizations need to transform as well.  American military forces have been, and continue to be, the most capable in the world, but the national-security infrastructure, refined and perfected during the 40-plus years of the Cold War, is increasingly ill suited to the challenges the United States faces today.  Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are so pervasive they have spawned a military acronym: VUCA.  Yet the inherently bureaucratic [Amen!  Bob] national-security institutions have failed to keep pace.  The US Department of Defense (DOD) is still largely governed by the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, which focused more on procurement efficiency and unity of command than responsiveness to volatility, uncertainty, and the rest.  Similar changes are roiling the business world.  But there, companies are successfully adapting by flattening their structures, exploiting modern information technology, and empowering managers to create flatter, faster-moving, and more flexible organizations.  And though some would argue that these new-age management techniques don’t apply to an organization as large and complex as the Pentagon, in fact, they have been successfully deployed in numerous settings in the defense and security arena, and can be usefully adopted in ways that recognize the DOD’s unique context.”

Is this the next big thing?
This New Tiny Breed of Computers Might One Day Make The Cloud Obsolete
Micromote computers have actually been around for a few years.  And University of Michigan computer scientists David Blaauw and Dennis Sylvester have been presenting different variations, the latest of which were presented during the recent IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).
According to the duo, their goal is to make smaller, smarter, and more energy-efficient sensors for medical devices and the Internet of Things.  As it is, many of the sensors that serve as the eyes (e.g. cameras) and ears (e.g. microphones) of smart devices are constantly on alert, and regularly send data to the cloud for analysis because they can’t do it on their own.  Because some have predicted that the number of smart devices might already reach 1 trillion by 2035, this regular beaming of data to the cloud might become a problem.  As Blaauw was quoted as saying: “If you’ve got a trillion devices producing readings constantly, we’re going to drown in data.”  Developing tiny, energy-efficient sensors that can compute and do their own analysis without help from the cloud will effectively address this.
Some of the variations they presented at the conference include designs that can do tasks like distinguish the sound of a passing car and measure temperature and light levels using only a few nanowatts of power; and a compact radio that can transmit data to receivers about 20 meters away — a huge improvement compared with last year’s 50-centimeter range radio.

And I’ve got to ask, ‘Will the TSA want to review all your DNA before you can enter the country?”
Engineers Store 214 Petabytes Of Data In A Gram Of DNA: What It Means For The Future
As more and more torrents of data pour in every day, some experts fear that modern hard drives may become too limited or outstripped to capture information.
But as years of computer science have proven before, the solution to this problem may be found in the smallest and unlikeliest of places.  This time, it's in a single gram of DNA.

(Related).  Forgive them, for they know not what they do?  Nor do they know what they should be doing, or how to do that.  (What should I be telling my International students?) 
Caroline Fairchild reports on a situation that never should have happened. This is just not my country.
….After landing, Omin waited for 20 minutes and then reached the front of the line, where a Customs and Border Protection officer asked him a series of questions.  It was here that Omin realized that the job might be challenging, but getting into America could now be impossible.  No one at Andela had prepared him for the new reality.
After a few minutes of grilling him about the job, the border agent escorted Omin into a small room and told him to sit down.  Another hour passed before a different customs officer came in.
“Your visa says you are a software engineer.  Is that correct?” the officer asked Omin in a tone the engineer described as accusatory.  When Omin said it was right, the officer presented him with a piece of paper and a pen and told him to answer the following questions:
·         “Write a function to check if a Binary Search Tree is balanced.”
·         “What is an abstract class, and why do you need it?”
Read more on CNBC.
[From the article:
For every web developer looking for work in the United States, there are roughly five open positions.  That's why startups like Andela exist in the first place: To connect foreign tech workers with opportunities here in the United States.  But now with his partners having a hard time getting into the country to work, Johnson is worried that he might have challenges in the future.  He has already reached out to Customs and Border Protection for further clarification on why Omin's work visa was flagged, but he hasn't heard back yet.

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