Thursday, August 10, 2017

“We’ve noticed that you seem unhappy…”
“Yes, I was.  My attorney told me I couldn’t sue you for just watching me with your many surveillance video cameras, I would have to wait until you disturbed my privacy by using that surveillance in an inappropriate way.  Thank you for cheering me up!” 
Walmart will scan for unhappy shoppers using facial recognition (cue the apocalypse)
Walmart is about to use artificial intelligence in the worst way possible.  According to a patent filing, the largest brick-and-mortar retailer in the world (likely looking for ways to compete with Amazon) is developing a technology that can identify whether customers are unhappy or frustrated.  It will likely use existing security and checkout cameras to read the faces. 
   In real life, I could see Walmart employees appearing out of nowhere every time a teenager gets a text from his girlfriend or a dad running on fumes with four kids in tow has to buy diapers.  It’s invasive, annoying, prone to errors, not that helpful, and a bit too much like Big Brother with a new toy.
   And yet — it’s also inevitable.  When we can use facial recognition to assist in the sales process we will, even if it might seem heavy-handed or creepy.  As one writer pointed out, the technology is one way to combat customer churn.  One bad experience at Walmart means a customer might spend the rest of their days shopping at Costco instead.

Is someone at the Wall Street Journal a little bit ticked at Facebook?
The New Copycats: How Facebook Squashes Competition From Startups
Tech startups live by the rule that speed is paramount.  Houseparty, creator of a hot video app, has an extra reason for urgency.
Facebook Inc., a dominant force in Silicon Valley, is stalking the company, part of the social network’s aggressive mimicking of smaller rivals.  Facebook is being aided by an internal “early bird” warning system that identifies potential threats, according to people familiar with the technology.
   Silicon Valley is dominated by a few titans, a development that’s fundamentally altering the nature of America’s startup culture.  While it’s as easy as ever to start a company, it is getting harder to grow fast enough and big enough to avoid getting either acquired or squashed by one of the behemoths.

Perhaps I should develop one for my student researchers? 
Ad Week – Most and Least Trusted Brands in News
by on
People have a lot of faith in Reuters, but not as much in Breitbart:”… A study of close to 9,000 people found that the most trusted source of news is The Economist, while the Occupy Democrats organization was the least trusted source.  The University of Missouri recently ran a questionnaire distributed by 28 newsrooms across the country.  Those newsrooms asked their audiences to answer questions about the types of content they consume and how much they’re willing to pay for that content.  About 67 percent of people who replied consider themselves likely or very likely to trust the news, which means nearly 33 percent of them are unlikely or very unlikely to trust the news…”

This could be useful.  I admit I have trouble keeping all the characters straight. 
IBM Watson counted more than 2,000 characters in the Game of Thrones book series.  Now imagine trying to track them all and their bios in your head.  Tough.
This is where The Fictionary can be a huge help:
“A free look-up capable custom e-book dictionary of fictitious terms, places, and people in literature.  Created by author provided content or community wikis.”
   Each book has a devoted custom fictionary for it.  You can download a fictionary to your Kindle or the Kindle iOS app for the book you are reading.  Android users can use the ColorDict app as a platform for the dictionaries.
   The Fictionary is free and easy to install.  Thanks to the passion of wiki communities and self-published authors, the dictionaries can give you more context for the book you are reading.

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