Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘2019’ Category

AI Distortion

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Happy Friday. 

For those of you in the U.S., are you ready for a longgg holiday weekend?

You’re already on the road, you say?  Well, more power to ya!

I think we had another AI moment yesterday.

WAPO is reporting that there were distorted videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that had been altered to make her sound as if she’s drunkely slurring her words.

The videos spread rapidly across social media, including Twitter, FB, and YT.

One version, posted by the conservative Facebook page Politics WatchDog, had been viewed more than 2 million times by Thursday night, been shared more than 45,000 times, and garnered 23,000 comments with users calling her “drunk” and “a babbling mess.”

WAPO goes on to write that the origins of the altered video remained unclear.

Another video that made the rounds this week: One of now and former world leaders like Trump, Putin, May, Obama, others, singing along to John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Their moving lips were totally in synch with Lennon’s lyrics.  Their policies, that’s another story.

This is our future.

If we can’t tell the difference between a Tweet originating at the White House or the Kremlin, what chance do we have with video??

Maybe we could just make up a presidential candidate from AI scratch, give he/she a good neural network, and send them off and running.  They could make decisions 24 hours a day, wouldn’t require food or sleep, and wouldn’t necessarily even need their own Twitter account. 

Because they’re AI, they know and see all, and are omnipotent. 

Happy start to your Memorial Day weekend.  ; )

Written by turbotodd

May 24, 2019 at 11:06 am

Reservation for 5,000

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I read a piece in The New York Times yesterday that provided a recent test of Google’s Duplex technology.

Google Duplex was the technology revealed in May 2018 at the Google I/O developer conference that uses a Google AI engine via Google Assistant to call and make appointments. The original I/O demo, and The New York Times test, partly centered on making restaurant reservations.

In the Times piece, you can listen to a couple of the reservation calls. You should give them a listen. No, really.

Do they pass the Turing Test? Maybe not, but the AI does a really good job of playing the human. And in many cases, Duplex is still using humans, not bots, for making the reservations.

That, presumably, is to better train the bots so that we can get rid of the humans altogether and move the humans up the value chain to a far more interesting job like, say, delivering for Uber eats!

I wonder what happens if one of the algos messes up and tries to make a reservation for 5,000 using someone’s Amex black card for a deposit.

Does the Duplex AI start screaming for help from Dave because the algo doesn’t know what to do with that information? Does Amex reverse the charge when the human calls blaming the mistake on the Duplex AI? Do they try to sue Larry and Sergey!??"

*That* one you can try at home, kids!

Written by turbotodd

May 23, 2019 at 10:02 am

Posted in 2019, artificial intelligence, google

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Telco Turmoil

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The 5G and telco industry whirlwind continues…

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is "leaning against approving T-Mobile’s proposed takeover of Sprint."

Apparently the "remedies" proposed by the wireless carriers earlier this week didn’t go far enough resolve the department’s concerns that the deal risked harming competition.

Next, the FTC won an antitrust case against Qualcomm in the Northern District of California, this just a few weeks after Apple and Qualcomm settled a major patent dispute.

The FTC has ordered a number of remedies to Qualcomm, including that the company must not condition of the supply of modem chips on a customer’s patent license status, and that the company must negotiate or renegotiate license terms with customers "in good faith under conditions free from the threat of lack of access to or discriminatory provision of modem chip supply or associated technical support or access to software," among others.

And not to be left out, the telco vice against China continues today with the U.K.’s chip design firm ARM reportedly in a leaked memo has told its staff it must suspend business with Huawei. A report from the BBC explained that "Arm’s designs form the basis of most mobile processors worldwide" and that the designs contained "U.S. origin technology," and therefore subject to the U.S. trade restrictions.

Written by turbotodd

May 22, 2019 at 9:56 am

Posted in 2019, 5G, china

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Rain, Shine, Sleet, Snow, or AI

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Uncle Sam’s getting into the AI game, specifically with the U.S Postal Service.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, USPS is testing self-driving trucks on a more than 1,000-mile mail run between Phoenix and Dallas.

It’s a two-week pilot, and will use rigs supplied by autonomous trucking firm TuSimple to haul trailers on five round trips between distribution centers.

“The roughly 22-hour trip along three interstate highways is normally serviced by outside trucking companies that use two-driver teams to comply with federal regulations limiting drivers’ hours behind the wheel.”

Pretty simple equation. No humans, low cost, and no hours-of-service restrictions for AI Driver Dude.

So, dude (and dudettes), dissuade your kids from becoming truck drivers. There’s literally going to be no future for them.

Written by turbotodd

May 21, 2019 at 4:54 pm

On the Verge of a Digital Cold War: Peking Duck (and Cover)

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Man oh man, has this already been a juicy week thus far for tech geopolitical geeks like me.

First, last week, the U.S. Commerce Dept. basically banned all U.S. telcos from doing business with Huawei, but then today has “temporarily eased trade restrictions [on the company] to minimize disruption for its customers.”

Tit, meet Tat.

Specifically, Reuters reported today that Commerce has not granted Huawei a license to buy U.S. goods until August 19th to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphones.

This gives telecom operators that rely on Huawei time to make other arrangements.

China’s Huawei founder isn’t taking all this lying down: “The U.S. government’s actions at the moment underestimate our capabilities,” said Ren Zhengfei.

The latest Huawei casualty? Microsoft removed the Huawei MateBook X Pro (one of the best Windows laptops available in the U.S. right now, says The Verge) from its online store — without a Windows license, it’s a brick.

This shit is getting real real and fast!

Which makes me wonder: Who’s holding which cards in this geopolitical poker game with gargantuan stakes? China certainly seems to have the edge (and pricing power) on new 5G technologies, but do they have their own native-built smartphone operating system they can do a hot switchover to lest the Android goes completely dark.

Bloomberg reports that Huawei has indeed, and better yet, has been building its own OS and its own “App Gallery” (lest it need to supplant the Android Play Store).

I f——ing love this industry, and it’s a great time to watch these great powers battle for its future. We might just have ourselves a new space race, and despite the tensions, remember, the space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Led to more technological innovation in a short 7-8 years than I even care to count (although we’ll leave Tang out of that equation).

Freeze dried ice cream, anyone? It’s time to celebrate!

Written by turbotodd

May 21, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Posted in 2019, 5G, china, huawei

Tagged with , , ,

Brooks and Bran

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Spoiler Alert!

If you haven’t watched the end of the PGA Championship yet on your DVR, I’m about to congratulate the winner, so stop reading this post now.

If you did watch, you know it was one half of the “Smash Brothers” who took his fourth major golf championship inside of 23 months: Brooks Koepka.

Pretty spectactular stuff.

My boss actually called this one, and I couldn’t say I disagreed with him. Brooks seems to be one of those once in a generation players who comes loaded to bear on the golf course, especially at the majors. 

And when I say loaded to bear, I’m talking about insane distance off the tee (but also accuracy in hitting fairways), great up and down (scrambling), and some great putting (which is an area where he has struggled in the past).

Dustin Johnson, the other Smash bro, put on a good run, especially in the middle of the round when Brooks bogied four holes in a row to take his lead to one, but it just wasn’t to be, and Koepka took the Wannamaker for the second year in a row.

Now, the other spoiler alert: GOT. 

If you don’t watch “Game of Thrones” you need to get with the program. Of course, now it’s all over, and as I predicted, Jon killed Dany and Bran became king.

Apparently a lot of folks didn’t like the last several episodes and/or the ending, but it all worked well for me.  Eight seasons is a lot to wrap up such epic storytelling, and I figured after the Drogon Burning Man fest from last weekend, Dany had to go.  And Tyrian convinced Jon, and that was that.

So what does all this have to do with technology?  Everything and nothing.

GOT certainly has everything to do with clashing empires, which is exactly what we’re seeing now with the “Chimerica” tech wars.

Over the weekend, Reuters reported that Google has suspended business with China’s Huawei telco business, for anything “that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.”

That means no more licensing of Android to Huawei.

But what this is really about is the burgeoning big power battle over the evolution of 5G technology — meaning, the U.S. does not want China to be a primary provider of 5G equipment due to concerns around … well, you name it: surveillance, national security, concerns over economic power, technology transfer, etc.

So if Huawei loses in the 5G battle (and I’m not convinced they do, particularly if European and other partners don’t go along with the ‘Merica First 5G battle cry), who wins?

Vendors like Ericsson, HPE, Nokia, Intel, and Qualcomm, certainly. But let’s not forget, their products are typically much more expensive than those from Huawei.

We’ll see if it’s the almighty dollar — or the strengthening renminbi — that ultimately prevails.

 

Written by turbotodd

May 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm

Posted in 2019, 5G, china, golf

Tagged with , , ,

Cray Cray and the PGA

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Happy Friday.

For golfers everywhere, it’s an especially special week (and weekend).

Normally, the PGA Championship is the last major championship of the year, played in the heat of the August sun.

This year, the tournament has been moved up to mid-May, and is being played at what they call the “peoples’ country club,” Bethpage Black.

Bethpage Black is the hardest of a number of golf courses open to the general public in Bethpage State Park in Long Island, New York.

It has also been home to a couple of U.S. Opens, one in 2002 and again in 2009…it was, in fact, the first public golf course to host a U.S. Open.

So, that’s the backstory. And while everyone is excited to hear about Tiger Woods play after winning the Masters this year, it was Brooks Koepka, three-time major and one-time PGA Championship winner who sunk putts from every which direction and every which length yesterday who took the lead at 7 under par.

Koepka is due back on the Black this PM, and while he has a couple of great players making chase, including Jordan Spieth who’s in today at a cumulative 5 under and Dustin Johnson (-4), it appears Koepka is in charge of his destiny this PM.

As for destiny, let’s jump over to some Friday PM tech news.

First up, for those of you who remember the hey day of supercomputing (whenever that was), you’ll remember Cray Inc.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is taking Cray off the board for $1.30 billion, roughly $35 per share and a premium of 17.4 percent to Cray’s last close, according to Reuters.

At last count, Cray’s supercomputing systems can handle big data sets, converged modeling, simulations, AI, and analytics workloads.

If this news makes you ill, you might want to check into Health at Scale. TechCrunch is reporting that the AI healthcare startup has raised $16M in a Series A round.

The startup has founders with both medical and engineering backgrounds, and writes that it “wants to bring machine learning to bear on healthcare treatment options to produce outcomes with better results and less aftercare.”

The idea is to make treatment decisions more data-driven. While they aren’t sharing their data sources, they say they have information, from patients with a given condition, to doctors who treat that condition, to facilities where the treatment happens. By looking at a patient’s individual treatment needs and medical history, they believe they can do a better job of matching that person to the best doctor and hospital for the job. They say this will result in the fewest post-operative treatment requirements, whether that involves trips to the emergency room or time in a skilled nursing facility, all of which would end up adding significant additional cost.

Anything to improve the condition of the American healthcare system.

Written by turbotodd

May 17, 2019 at 12:41 pm

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