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The Human Problems Underlying Intel's Diversity Report
December 16, 2019
When Intel released its diversity report last week, it got pounded for the lack of diversity in its executive staff. Intel is one of the few companies being transparent about diversity. Given that lack of diversity is the problem we want to solve, the bashing is stupid. It is only going to make it harder to address the problem. In effect, Intel did the right thing and was punished for it.
A Secret Strategy That Could Be Apple's Fatal Self-Inflicted Blow
December 9, 2019
Both Intel and a bunch of professors connected to Apple and the FTC came out in support of the Judge Koh verdict against Qualcomm, even though it had been shown that the foundational evidence was manufactured contrary to the wishes of the DoJ, DoD and other major government agencies. That was well after Qualcomm was identified as a critical part of the U.S. defense against Huawei's 5G dominance.
Tapping AI for a Future of Better, Faster, Cheaper Gift Shopping
December 2, 2019
If you are like me, every Christmas you dread shopping because figuring out what everyone wants is a bit of a nightmare. You don't know what folks want in your price range. If you find out, there is no easy way to be sure they haven't bought it themselves, or that someone else didn't get it for them. Choosing sizes and colors adds to the nightmare. These problems aren't limited to Christmas.
Thanks, Analysts, for Doing a High Risk, Low Reward Job
November 25, 2019
I'd like to dedicate this column to the analysts out there who are fighting the good fight -- who are risking their careers, reputations, and sometimes even their lives to do the right thing, often without credit, and knowing that doing the right thing can exact incredible personal costs. Being an analyst, I'm often reminded that other jobs depend on my doing my job right.
Banishing Bias From the Leadership Selection Process
November 18, 2019
I'm spending a lot of time these days looking at the evolving market for artificial intelligence and the problem of bias. I think the problem in part is due to confirmation bias -- the need to look only at the information that agrees with a position already set. Another contributing factor is the lack of a set of metrics that we can apply consistently. AI systems will face similar problems.
Tech Company Standouts for Giving Veterans Their Due
November 11, 2019
Today is Veterans Day. I got a note last week from Joe Sestak, one of the shrinking field of United States presidential candidates, reminding me that we should observe a moment of silence in recognition of our veterans today. We've asked these people to put their lives on the line for us, and we get a day to offer our thanks. Giving our thanks is the least we can do.
The Truth vs. Censorship Trap
November 4, 2019
There recently has been a lot of rumbling about Twitter deciding not to take political ads, and Facebook deciding -- and this was stupid -- that it would run political ads even if they were untrue. I'm becoming convinced that Zuckerberg is trying to put Facebook out of business. There are some real differences between the firms. Facebook does far more political advertising than Twitter.
The Force May Be With Microsoft
November 2, 2019
The Pentagon has awarded its $10 billion contract for cloud computing to Microsoft. The program -- which goes by the acronym "JEDI" for "Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure" -- has been attracting vendors like a dog attracts fleas for several years. It has been marked by fierce litigation too, so the award may not be the end of it. Oracle sued over the process, claiming it was unfair.
Getting Sustainability Right
October 28, 2019
It seems strange to me that our governments haven't been more aggressive about protecting the environment, given that the cost of not doing so poses an existential risk to the human race. It seems insane to me as we watch parts of the country burn and other parts of the country drown that we're still arguing about climate change rather than coming together to do something about it.
3 Coming Tech Advances That Could Boost Our Safety and Smarts
October 21, 2019
I was moved by the recent news about a woman being shot in her home by a police officer who had come to check up on her. Once again, I found it frustrating that people immediately jumped to apply blame before all the facts were in. From my reading, three mistakes contributed to the incident. The first was by the neighbor, the second by the police, and the final mistake was by the woman herself.
Virtual Pets, Virtual People and Virtual Immortality
October 14, 2019
One of the interesting and somewhat underappreciated aspects of the recent Qualcomm wireless event is that 5G will make realistic AR avatars possible. This advance will be possible because with high bandwidth and very low latency, processing could shift from the device to the cloud. Coupled with the rollout of distributed data centers, this means you could have realistic virtual pets and friends.
Ballmer's Vindication: Microsoft Launches 5 Apple-Killer Surface Products
October 7, 2019
One of the last major initiatives former CEO Steve Ballmer launched before he left Microsoft was its Surface effort. It was designed to address the concern that the iPod would take over the PC world. During the Surface launch last week, it wasn't hard to see that Ballmer was right conceptually. It just took Satya Nadella to execute, showcasing that Ballmer didn't have a strategic problem.
Leaked Audio Reveals Zuckerberg Spinning Hard
October 2, 2019
An attendee at a two-hour question-and-answer session during a Facebook company meeting held in July leaked a recording of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments that reveal deep insights into his thinking. Zuckerberg apparently decided the Q&A format would be an effective way to rally Facebook employees against rising criticism from competitors and the U.S. government.
A Peek at Our Wireless Future
September 30, 2019
Last week I attended a Qualcomm event that took me through the coming wave of both 5G and WiFi 6 products, touched on the millimeter wave, and at least spoke to 6G. From this I think I can begin to picture the world as it will exist by the middle of the next decade, and it is kind of fascinating. Qualcomm has spent nearly $50B -- yes billion -- advancing its wireless initiatives.
Tech Approaches to Offsetting the Ecological Disaster of Deforestation
September 23, 2019
Watching Brazil's rain forest burn is causing a lot of us to freak out a bit. Referring to it as "the world's lungs" may be an overstatement, but the rain forest is a critical global resource, and its destruction undoubtedly will worsen global warming. Given that the U.S. government has dismantled many environmental protection rules, companies are beginning to step up to work on offsets.
Pine64 Teases $25 Linux Smartwatch
September 17, 2019
While open source enthusiasts still await the year of the Linux desktop, hardware developer Pine64 is advancing the cause of a $25 Linux-powered smartwatch, dubbed "PineTime." The Pine64 community has invited developers with an interest in smartwatches to join in its efforts to bring the product to market. Pine64 makes inexpensive Linux-based single board ARM computers that cost $15 to $20.
What's Wrong With Apple?
September 16, 2019
Apple held its huge product announcement event last week, and what once had people besides themselves with excitement has become a near pointless program of copied features and missed expectations. It is a shame to watch -- much like it was when Apple fired Steve Jobs. It appears that the firm has forgotten what Steve did to turn Apple into a unique company.
Taking the AI Approach to US Problem-Solving
September 9, 2019
At an IBM briefing on its joint AI project with MIT, it struck me that some of the training concepts could improve the quality of political decisions to shift attention more to fixing problems rather than using them as weapons against opponents. I'm not talking about using artificial intelligence systems directly. I'm suggesting we apply methods similar to those used to train them.
Amazon Trying Out Hand-Scanning Payment System: Report
September 5, 2019
Amazon is testing scanners that can identify a human hand to use as a payment method for in-store purchases. The company plans to introduce "Orville" to some Whole Foods stores by the beginning of 2020, and later expand it to all locations in the United States. Employees at Amazon's New York offices are said to be using the technology to buy items from specially equipped vending machines.
Samsung May Have New Foldable Phone in Wings
September 4, 2019
Samsung's first-generation foldable phone isn't expected until later this month, but reports of a second-generation device to be released in early 2020 already have started appearing online. The next-generation model is rumored to be a luxury phone that folds into a square. Already dubbed the "Galaxy Fold 2" in some reports -- it will have a clamshell design.
Sleep Monitoring Slated for Apple Watch
September 4, 2019
Apple reportedly has been developing sleep tracking functionality for the Apple Watch. The new "Time in Bed Tracking" feature will let users who wear the Apple Watch to bed track their sleep patterns. Consumers who have multiple Apple Watches can designate one for wearing in bed. he "Burrito" feature will let Apple Watch track a user's quality of sleep, including movement, heart rate and noises.
Calling BS on Clueless Predictions by Musk and Ma
September 2, 2019
Elon Musk and Jack Ma floated some radical ideas last week. Two of the most powerful men in the world, both have invested heavily in AI. Ma, who is the Alibaba Group cofounder and a huge advocate for the 12-hour a day six-day Chinese work week in tech, indicated that he believed AI would reduce the work week from 72 hours, where it now is in China, to 12 hours -- that is, three 4-hour workdays.
Instagram May Roll Out App for 'Real Friends' Sharing
August 28, 2019
A new application may be in the works that allows Instagram users to share real-time information with their closest friends. Called "Threads," the app allows users to set up automatic sharing with their closest Instagram buddies of such information as location, movement and battery life, as well as text, video and photo messages generated using Instagram's tools.
Apple, Tesla, IBM: Only One Has Gotten the 'Unique' Model Right
August 26, 2019
I'm struck by the way Apple and Tesla are executing a model very similar to IBM's. While IBM has evolved to put the customer at the center always, Apple and Tesla are nuanced in that respect, much like IBM was in the past. I worked at IBM when it imploded in the early 1990s, so I can speak to what is in Apple and Tesla's future unless they learn the easy way what IBM learned the hard way.
Sanity-Saving Tips From a Heavy Traveler
August 19, 2019
I'm on the road about 50 percent of the time, and I'm often asked for advice on how to have a better trip -- what to carry with you, where to sit, how to manage frequent flier programs, and so forth. One of my first really bad travel experiences was during my stint in IBM Internal Audit. I was auditing an IBM corporate site when the rules were three-piece suit, white shirt and tie.
Technology Could End Mass Shootings
August 12, 2019
I'm tired of being upset about mass shootings and the government's lack of progress to end them. I'm particularly tired of the partisan bickering around talking points that have no basis in fact. The left wants this to be about guns. The right wants to blame mental illness and video games. What is needed is deep analysis to look at the causes, craft a fact-based solution, and then implement it.
How Tech Could Rescue the Awful Democratic Debates
August 5, 2019
Like many of you, I watched eight-plus hours of Democratic debates last week, and they seem to be getting worse over time. The last effort made it look like CNN was trying harder to create drama than to help people make a choice among the candidates. We have a ton of technology -- some new, some in place for decades -- that could make this process far more informative.
Apple to Jump on 5G Bandwagon in 2020
July 30, 2019
Apple's 2019 crop of iPhones haven't been released yet but there's already talk about its 2020 plans, largely because that will be the first year the company's mobile lineup will support 5G. Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst known for his accurate predictions, believes all three iPhones introduced in 2020 will support 5G. Kuo gave three reasons for Apple's decision.
Tesla's Failings Overshadow Its Impressive Successes
July 29, 2019
Launching a new car company and getting it to global scale doesn't happen often, and it has been a long time since there has been a successful launch of one in the United States. Tesla really stands alone as the only new U.S. car company of scale since American Motors and Studebaker failed decades ago, when three auto companies then dominated the U.S. industry.
Why We All Need to Learn to Live on Camera
July 22, 2019
I was struck by a recent video of a soldier who apparently took some woman's parking spot and then went off the rails when she objected. He bad-mouthed the U.S. military and the U.S., abused his wife, and put his child at risk. A decade ago we probably wouldn't have seen this incident, but now there is a good chance that anyone who misbehaves, as this guy clearly did, will be caught on camera.
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Which technology has the strongest positive or negative impact on race relations?
Smartphone cameras, by holding people accountable.
Twitter, by reporting news as it happens.
Facebook, by providing a platform for discussing the issues.
YouTube, by exposing viewers to other cultures.
Twitter, by fueling antagonisms.
Facebook, by spreading fake news.
Women in Tech