Sunday, June 18, 2017

Data, like people can lie

Three cheers for the West Virginia University team whose research caused the net to enclose upon the existential Euro varmints of VW. Who used software to neuter U.S. emission tests (and probably laugh about it over bears). Data, like people can lie. Data exists within the construct of the civilization around it -  What's the bet that a few Euro's in an off shore bank will cause Trump and Bannion to cut research funding in to emissions? - Jack Vaughan

Monday, June 5, 2017

It couldnt look bleaker unless your name is Meeker

Mary Meeker's annual report for Kleiner Perkins on the status of Internet commerce is always interesting - chock full of data and packed with gleefully greedy West Coast VC perspective.  Let's look at some highpoints out of the 150-plus Power Point Slide opus.

Do you smell the fear in the Fortune 500? Smells like they could use some baby wipes. They can get them from Amazon, actually, which trails only Huggies and Pampers for online market share. For Duracell, it is deep doodoo, as Amazon surpasses the check out counter champ entirely  - on the Web. All that marketing and technology innovation - not too mention shelf shoving -- over many years seems for little or naught. (Off beat: I worked for 6 months at a drug store on 34th St in the 1970s and among the thing I learned was: "You cannot keep Pampers on the shelf" Translation: Shit happens.)

The sound of foot prints echoes double in network television where the biggies are flat or in decline, but Netflix is on a skyrocket up.

And disruptors (the Internet advertising vehicles  that disrupted convention media) can be disrupted too, especially if they face big hungry disruptors  such as Facebook and Google. They who grow ad revenue in double digits while Everybody Else flatly contests the small pie leftovers.

Maybe Facebook and Google are as much beneficiaries of an underlying sea change in Internet of anything else. While desktop and Laptop Internet use has been steady or in slight decline over the last eight years, Internet   time on the smartphone side has been vaulting forward stridently. What is different about mobile? The message might be real real concise, the ambiance more transactional, and the market more consumerish.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Technology and Koyaanisqatsi

By U.S. HUD 
Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi concept brought to wide attention as the title and central motif in Godfrey Reggio's 1983 movie. There are a lot of ways of looking at the meaning of the word, but the one that Reggio lit upon can stand, as it is a pretty useful way of framing the modern world. Koyaanisqatsi represents "Life out of balance," and, to me, that representation aptly depicts 1000-plus years of rising science and technology threatening human values.

I suppose there is more - that there is a unified theory gluon waiting, something like Capital, or Greed. But let's start with some simplicity.  Asking: Where is harmonious technology and humanism to be found, and where and why does Koyannisqatsi begin to emerge. - Jack Vaughan

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Partners HealthCare: "I sing the General Electric"

Massachusetts-based Partners HealthCare partnered with GE Healthcare last week on a projected 10-year collaboration to bring greater use of AI-based deep learning technology to healthcare. across the entire continuum of care. The collaboration will be executed through the newly formed Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Clinical Data Science and will feature co-located, multidisciplinary teams with broad access to data, computational infrastructure and clinical expertise.

The deal is something of a stake in the ground, as GE moves its HQ up from Conn to Boston. In the long term, Partners and GE hope to create new businesses around AI and healthcare.

The initial focus of the relationship will be on the development of applications aimed to improve clinician productivity and patient outcomes in diagnostic imaging. It will be interesting, as more details emerge, to see how this effort compares or contrasts with efforts such as IBM Watson Imaging Clinical Review -- a cognitive imaging offering from that company's Watson Health operation as part of a collaborative of 24 organizations worldwide. - Smiling Jack Shroud

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

30 Second History of Corporate Data Processing

I just finished some research on definition of data. Hope to point it out when it happens.
What I learned: Data sort of went into a new era with Claude Shannon's work in Boolean math and data compression and cryptography which was near concurrent with birth of transistors and the advent of electronic and magnetic representation of data signals in and around the computer. Of course there was a sidestep (and homage to Hollerith and Jacquard) with punch cards - which carried the anti-conformist message of the time: Don't bend fold or mutilate me.

Next up were databases that organized data in an increasingly efficient way. Then relational databases which had such use in business, and SPSS, which had use in statistics, sociology and academia.

All along the way, data becoming more of a commodity  - and a series of professions building up around its evolution as a commodity. Until the advent of big data - that being unstructured data on the main - data coming from outside of the organization - data being created by consumers as they do their activity.

Until you have today's world, with data as a business - in the cases of companies like Google and Facebook, being the total basis of their business -- and you have concerns about data privacy. - Jack Vaughan

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Shannon, information and noise

Dr Disruption Signal Sign
This fits with things coming up again. I wrote it for ITWorld when Claude Shannon died. Also has re-run on MoonTraveller.

OBITUARY-APPRECIATION - We live in an age highly influenced by information technology. For many people, it has become the basis for a life's work. For a few, at least, it has meant great fortunes.
Most of the great technologists who set the stage for this era -- for example, Norbert Weiner, Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, and John von Neumann -- are long dead. But Claude Shannon, the great theorist who formed the most basic tenets of the information age, survived until last weekend. He died at 84 last Saturday in Medford, Mass., after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease.

Shannon's work, like his passing, may not be widely noted among many who have followed him in the information, technology, and e-commerce industries. But there is little question that he is the chief progenitor of information theory and modern digital communications. Shannon's mathematical thinking and writing laid the groundwork for most of today's information technology industry. He is the man who discovered 1's and 0's in electronic communication.

Shannon was born in Petoskey, Mich., and grew up in Gaylord, Mich. He worked as a messenger for Western Union while in Gaylord High School, and attended college at MIT, where he was a member of Tau Beta Pi.

Although the algebra of digital binary bits was first uncovered by mathematician George Boole in the mid-19th century, it was Shannon who saw the value of applying that form of logic to electronic communications. As a student of Vannevar Bush's at MIT in the 1930s, he worked on the differential analyzer, perhaps the greatest mechanical (analog) calculator. His paper, "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits," which led to a long association with Bell Laboratories, laid out Shannon's theories on the relationship of symbolic logic and relay circuits.

While at Bell Labs, Shannon wrote the landmark "The Mathematical Theory of Communication." The information content of a message, he theorized, consists simply of the number of 1's and 0's it takes to transmit it. In a real sense, Shannon conceived of the "bit" that is now so widely used to represent data.

Later, he became a professor at MIT. His students included Marvin Minsky and others who became notable in the field of artificial intelligence. While Shannon's thinking could captivate academicians, it was equally appealing to practical engineers.

Shannon's work led to many inventions used by both technology developers and end users. His theories can truly be described as pervasive today.

When I was young, Shannon's work was a tough nut to crack, but it certainly was intriguing. As a high school boy, I was interested in the future -- maybe more so than now, when I live and breathe and work in what that future became. Grappling with Shannon's basic information theories was part of my education about the future.

Growing up in a Wisconsin city across the lake from Shannon's birthplace, I tried to plow through the town library as best I could. I wanted to learn about computers, automation, and the combination of the two that was known in those days (the 1960s) as cybermation. I discovered for myself -- by chance, really -- that the fundamental elements of those ideas were Shannon's inventions.

For the better part of Shannon's life, analog communication ruled. Of course, his greatest achievement was visualizing digital communication. Much of his greatest work revolved around defining information in relation to "noise," the latter phenomenon being quite familiar to anyone who often tried desperately to home in on radio signals before digital communication filters came into being. I came to appreciate that aspect of Shannon's work later on when, as a journalist, I had the opportunity to learn and write about digital signal processing.

Then I found out that Shannon had laid the groundwork for modern error correction coding, an essential element of things like hard disk drive design and digital audio streaming, and probably many things yet to come.

Day and night, data, messages, music, and more swirls around us -- all made possible to some extent by the idea of communicating electronically in 1's and 0's. It is something to think that a Western Union messenger could have conceived of this new world. - Jack Vaughan, originally published in