Watson Fix President Trump

President Trump offers a good emulation for a future artificial intelligence system, suggests a column I read earlier this month, and his presidency may be an early warning of what could happen if we should fail to think through its training and information sources.

Cathy O’Neil, the author of the piece, is a data scientist, mathematician and professor, so she has decent chops. She compares artificial intelligence to human intelligence that is mostly id — basically because we don’t yet know how to instill it with empathy, or create the digital equivalent of a conscience.

Given that IBM’s Watson was designed not to replace humans but to enhance them by giving them the critical information they need to make the best decisions, it could be a useful tool for training our new president. And it is built in the U.S. by a U.S. company.

Given that Watson is now doing our taxes, it could be huge both for the president and IBM. I’ll explain and then close with my product of the week: Nvidia’s new set-top box.

 

Id-Driven CEOs – a Model for Future AIs

CEOs in large companies, particularly those who can implement large layoffs and take massive salaries without remorse, are believed to have similar behavioral traits.

Donald Trump is a good showcase of what could happen with an AI that didn’t receive high quality information and training. Understanding this and designing to correct the problem could prevent a Skynet outcome.

Skynet — the computing system in the Terminator movies — was created for defense purposes to eliminate threats. When humans tried to shut it down, it concluded that humans were the biggest threat and that it needed to eliminate them.

Using reverse logic, if President Trump is a good emulation of a future AI, then the same thing that would ensure that the future AI wouldn’t kill us should work to turn the new president into one of the most successful who ever lived, from the perspective of those who live in the U.S.

 

The AI Dichotomy

There are two parallel and not mutually exclusive paths for the coming wave of artificially intelligent machines coming to market. One — arguably the most attractive to many CEOs that deal with unions — is the model in which the machine replaces the human, increasing productivity while lowering executive aggravation.

This is exemplified in an episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Brain Center at Whipple’s.” As you would expect, once you go down a path of replacement, it is hard to know when to stop. At the end of the episode, the enterprising CEO who so unfeeling dealt with the employees he’d laid off is replaced by my favorite robot, Robby.

The other path — the one IBM espouses — is one in which the artificial intelligence enhances the human employee. It is a cooperative arrangement, and Watson was designed specifically for this role.

In one of its first medical tests, Watson took just minutes to diagnose a rare form of cancer that had stumped doctors for months. The supercomputer’s analysis led to a new, more effective treatment for the patient.

It is interesting to note that autonomous cars are developing on a parallel path — but in this case, the opposite scenario is favored. In the model known as “chauffeur,” the car has no capability for human driving. This model is favored when tied to a service, such as Uber.

However, car companies like Toyota prefer the “guardian angel” model, which allows a human to drive but equips the car with the ability to take various degrees of control instantly, depending on the situation. We see some of this today with technologies that bump you back into a lane, for example, or automatically tension the seatbelts and hit the brakes if it looks like you are about to hit something.

 

Watson for the President

Since its successful debut in healthcare, Watson has been applied to a number of other industries, including litigation, and it is rumored to be in use for both national defense and intelligence purposes. Granted, it might seem like overkill to create an implementation of Watson for just one person, but when that person is the most powerful head of state in the world, it might not be a bad investment.

At the very least, it would provide near-instant recognition of fake news, attempts to influence the office of the president, and early warnings if decisions were likely to have massive unintentional consequences.

If O’Neil’s premise is correct, then the best way to fix the Trump presidency could be to wed the president with a tool that trains him to be a chief executive capable of making far more fact-based, high quality decisions. Watson is designed specifically to do both.

Cybersecurity Warriors Ranks

IBM this week announced Watson for Cyber Security, a powerful new ally for organizations that want to protect their data from Net marauders.

The new offering bolsters the ability of information security pros to analyze the flood of information from the roughly 200,000 events that pour into their Security Operations Centers, or SOCs, every day.

About 20 percent of that flood is comprised of structured data that can be analyzed with database tools, but as much as 80 percent of it is unstructured data such as security blogs, white papers, Twitter feeds and forum threads. It’s data that contains valuable nuggets, but finding them is difficult.

“What Watson does is take all that information — structured, unstructured, as well as other information from the operations center — and put it in a cognitive system,” explained Denis Kennelly, vice president of development and technology at IBM Security.

“There it can be used to help the SOC operator to triage the security events,” he told TechNewsWorld.

While Watson can speed the analysis of data, its threat detection potential is limited, maintained Scott Miserendino, chief data scientist at BluVector.

“It’s primarily an enrichment service,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Betting on Cognitive Tools”Today’s sophisticated cybersecurity threats attack on multiple fronts to conceal their activities, and our security analysts face the difficult task of pinpointing these attacks amongst a massive sea of security-related data,” noted Sean Valcamp, chief information security officer at Avnet, an early tester of the Watson for Cyber Security system.

“Watson makes concealment efforts more difficult by quickly analyzing multiple streams of data and comparing it with the latest security attack intelligence to provide a more complete picture of the threat,” he said.

“Watson also generates reports on these threats in a matter of minutes, which greatly speeds the time between detecting a potential event and my security team’s ability to respond accordingly,” Valcamp added.

Only 7 percent of security pros currently use cognitive tools in their workflow, but that is changing, according to IBM, which expects usage to triple in the next two to three years.

That’s because as more and more devices come online, they create a burden on security teams they won’t be able to handle without the help an AI like Watson.

“The attack surface for the attacker is mushrooming,” Kennelly said. “Tools like Watson can help defend against those expanding attack patterns.”

 

Voice-Powered Security Assistant

IBM also announced the Havyn Project, which is developing a new voice-powered security assistant to work with Watson’s data.

Mobile World Congress

One of the biggest disappointments at this year’s Mobile World Congress, which opened Monday, is that the Samsung Galaxy 8 phone won’t make it. The phone’s official launch is scheduled for March 29.

The Galaxy line has been the ultimate iPhone fighter. Rumors around the anniversary edition of the iPhone suggest that it will do amazing, magical things, like 3D selfies. (OK, I’m really missing Steve Jobs at the moment — who the hell wants 3D selfies?!?)

Missing the biggest historical alternative is keeping a lot of us home this week. Still LG, Motorola, Lenovo and Qualcomm are expected to make huge announcements that could result in the iPhone 8 looking a tad out of date when it finally launches later in the year.

I’ll share some observations on what they have in store and close with my product of the week: a new PC camera from Logitech that enables Microsoft Hello on laptops and desktop PCs that otherwise wouldn’t support it. (When it works, Microsoft Hello is actually pretty cool.)

 

Gigabit Wireless

Some of this stuff we can anticipate just from Qualcomm launches. Perhaps the biggest of late is the Qualcomm X20 Modem. This part is likely to dominate the high-end phones announced at MWC and for good reason. It isn’t that it provides a maximum throughput of 1.2 gigabits — while impressive, that would just blow out our data plans — but that it uses carrier aggregation that increases overall data speeds by 2x or better.

This means you’ll have a far better chance of syncing your mail or downloading a book, movie or big file during the last minutes before the flight attendant forces you to put hour phone in airplane mode. It also means that cloud-based services likely will work much better on your phones, which will open up the door for things like…

 

Cloud-Based Artificial Intelligence

Let’s not kid ourselves — services like Siri suck. We’ve been waiting for some time for Apple’s partnership with IBM to result in a far better, Watson-like personal assistant. However, the richer the service, the less likelihood it can run on the phone, and the more it needs significant battery life.

If you really want a powerful artificial intelligence experience on the phone, you need both a powerful cloud-based AI and enough bandwidth to make the thing work, so expect some interesting, and far more powerful, cloud-based services announced this week.

Watson may be a stretch — though I doubt it — but the vastly improved Google Assistant is expected to be displayed on a far wider number of phones this year. So, one way or another, the new smartphones are likely to become a ton smarter.

GE Digital VP For Women

Beena Ammanath is vice president for data and analytics at GE Digital.

She has worked in the data analytics field for more than 20 years and serves as board director at ChickTech, a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting girls and women into the tech workforce and retaining them once they’re there.

Ammanath also serves on the Cal Poly Computer Engineering ProgramIndustrial Advisory Board, helping to shape the future generation of computer scientists with her expertise. She recently was named one of the top female analytics experts in the Fortune 500 by Forbescontributor Meta S. Brown.

In this exclusive interview, Ammanath speaks to TechNewsWorld about AI, analytics, and diversity in tech.

TechNewsWorld: You are one of the thought leaders on artificial intelligence. How do you think AI will impact businesses and jobs?

Beena Ammanath: I have worked in a number of industries — e-commerce, financial, marketing, telecom, retail, software products and industrial — over the past two decades. I have seen how the growth of data from OLTP systems to data warehouses to big data and data science has impacted businesses.

I believe we are just at the tip of the iceberg with AI today. AI is not by itself an industry — more of a technology that is positioned to transform businesses across a number of sectors. AI will be so intertwined and pervasive within business operations in the future that it may be impossible to do business without AI. Fundamental business models of today are going to change, as AI evolves.

Tesla’s driverless car is still in its early AI stage, but it won’t be that long before drivers put their cars completely on autopilot. In a few years from now, Uber may not need drivers; just idle cars will be needed. But even more broadly, the whole transportation ecosystem is going to change.

The Palm Jumeirah Monorail in Dubai is a fully automatic driverless train that can shuttle up to 6,000 passengers an hour. The locomotive industry is poised for a revolution — not only passenger trains, but also long-haul goods transportation.

There will be an impact on jobs, but I see it more as job roles changing and not necessarily as job reduction. The jobs most at risk are those that are routine-intensive and are strictly defined with limited tasks. If you think of the transportation example, in a few years we may not need as many drivers, but we will need more programmers and support personnel.

Best Linux Desktop

After I resolved to adopt Linux, my confidence grew slowly but surely. Security-oriented considerations were compelling enough to convince me to switch, but I soon discovered many more advantages to the Linux desktop.

For those still unsure about making the transition, or those who have done so but may not know everything their system can do, I’ll showcase here some of the Linux desktop’s advantages.

 

You Can’t Beat Free!

First and foremost, Linux is literally free. Neither the operating system nor any of the programs you run will cost you a dime. Beyond the obvious financial benefit of getting software for free, Linux allows users to be free by affording access to the basic tools of modern computer use — such as word processing and photo editing — which otherwise might be unavailable due to the cost barrier.

Microsoft Office, which sets the de facto standard formats for documents of nearly every kind, demands a US$70 per year subscription. However, you can run LibreOffice for free while still handling documents in all the same formats with ease.

Free software also gives you the chance to try new programs, and with them new ways of pursuing business and leisure, without their prospective costs forcing you to make a commitment.

Instead of painstakingly weighing the merits of Mac or Windows and then taking a leap of faith, you can consider a vast spectrum of choices offered by hundreds of distributions — basically, different flavors of Linux — by trying each in turn until you find the one that’s right for you.

Linux can even save money on hardware, as some manufacturers — notably Dell — offer a discount for buying a computer with Linux preinstalled. They can charge less because they don’t have to pass on the cost of licensing Windows from Microsoft.

 

You Can Make It Your Own

There is practically nothing in Linux that can’t be customized. Among the projects central to the Linux ecosystem are desktop environments — that is, collections of basic user programs and visual elements, like status bars and launchers, that make up the user interface.

Some Linux distributions come bundled with a desktop environment. Ubuntu is paired with the Unity desktop, for example. Others, such as with Debian, give you a choice at installation. In either case, users are free to change to any one they like.

Work Into Social Networking

Facebook last week launched new features for advertising job openings on the network.

Although many companies already have been using Facebook to find workers, the new functionality formalizes its job search capabilities, the company said.

U.S. and Canadian businesses can use the company’s new jobs bookmark to list open positions and allow users to apply directly from the site.

Page administrators can track applicants and communicate directly with them using messenger. They also can boost job postings to reach a larger audience.

 

User Experience

Jobs will appear in users’ News Feeds and also will be listed on individual businesses’ pages. Users can click on the Apply Now button to trigger the prepopulation of their personal information, but they will be able to review and edit that information before submitting their application.

Over the next few weeks, companies in the U.S. and Canada will be able to list jobs on their own pages and users will be able to find job listings at Jobs on Facebook.

It is not clear how Facebook intends to monetize the job listings. For example, will there be specific job-related charges for listing jobs? Will there be remuneration if a company fills a particular job through a Facebook ad?

 

Direct Competitors

The new functionality is certain to place Facebook into direct competition with LinkedIn for corporate users and individual job seekers. LinkedIn, which Microsoft last year acquired for US$26.2 billion, is the leading social media site for networking and job searching in the U.S., by many accounts.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn charges monthly subscription fees for job search services, depending on the level of functionality the user desires in terms of networking, contacting recruiters and accessing messaging functions.

Facebook also will be in indirect competition with websites such as Indeed, Monster, Craigslist and others that target job seekers.

“Social media is the new frontier for marketing and sales,” said Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

“By tapping into their employees’ social media experiences, companies can leverage their professional contacts to reach a wider audience,” he told TechNewsWorld.

 

Privacy Jitters

A major test for Facebook’s new job search capabilities is whether users will feel comfortable combining their social media activity with professional job searching, warned Zach Fuller, paid content analyst at Midia Research.

Security considerations likely will give some users pause when it comes to allowing potential employers to access their private information.

“Whether consumers are comfortable merging the work and social aspects of their lives will prove to be the critical factor, particularly given the potential privacy issues,” Fuller told TechNewsWorld.