Posted by: emitsorgroup | January 22, 2013

The blue machine: the crystal ball? Are we there yet?

#Knowledge #information #prediction #patents #evolution #datamining #bigdata

Some time ago I saw a video of IBM consisting of 5 parts and in which IBM predicts as in the following five years the technology to simulate/enhance our five senses will be available (presumably as a chip/sensor/etc.) for use in any electronic device (smart phones, tablets, computers, medical equipment, etc.) and therefore our own mobile phone would be able to tell the quality of the environment we live in, if we suffer a disease of the digestive system (using a flash), give us an optical diagnosis, etc. In fact some of this technology is already available in the market.

This video reminded me of the Jeopardy TV show and precisely IBM Watson project and as this system defeated the brightest all-time winners of this game show. How Watson works is explained in DeepQA project.

That said I wonder what happened to Watson and if somehow is responsible or one of its derivations of IBM’s ability to “predict the future” with the requisite degree to be applicable in business and the needs and consumerist tendencies of the human being. Well, I think this is not pure prediction but rather development of specific projects as IBM it has always been recognized for its investment in R & D, but also leaves the door open to the imagination and the real possibility of the former.

But there is another important fact: IBM is the company with the highest number of patents generated in 2012 and has been in the last 19 years and of course patents are equivalent to royalties or products and even to influence in businesses direction of products/services (just look at the latest patent lawsuits between large companies like Apple and Samsung, in which the court of San Jose California ordered Samsung to pay a little more than USD $1 billion to Apple for using its “patents”) and ultimately patents are  more money and power.

But the interesting (the bottom line) point that projects such as Watson and his predecessors/successors arises, is the fact of the vast amount of information generated by all of us and stored in the network as text, images, voice, video, etc. and its immense economic and strategic potential, exploited for more than a decade by various corporations that were responsible for compiling/processing in their extraordinary data centers and make available to us through its search engines (google, bing, yahoo, etc.). How important is this information that we get offered by those corporations’ gigabytes of storage for free or at very low cost (Google Drive, SkyDrive, Dropbox, etc.).

At some time in history the exploitation of minerals such as gold and silver or even spice was the motivating of reigns and wealthy people and helped the flourishing of many cultures. In our time is the use of information and it is very clear that we are just exploiting the visible peak of the giant iceberg.

But even more interesting I think, are the computer algorithms and mathematical equations these corporations have created for indexing/sorting/processing the information and which supported by complex artificial intelligence, advanced natural language processing programs/scripts, hadoops and many more technologies can convert this information into tangible products and services and finally … into patents.

It is understood by the common, the government of the United States (FBI, CIA, etc.) And probably other governments already use such machinery to monitor any suspicious activity of groups that could jeopardize national security, if these groups are stage of intention, planning or execution.

Imagine the X Corporation using such machines in order to capture new and fresh ideas or improved ones coming from multiple regions/trends (twitter/blogs/thesis works/etc.), Classified according to its orientation, i.e. what product or service have the ability to generate or improve. This would be a great technical advantage, so that the corporation can be the first to generate the corresponding patents. Once you get to a very feasible idea to generate a product or service, budgets and teams responsible for bringing into existence such a concept are allocated and consequently all the associated economic capital revenue will be reached, all of that just for analyzing the information.

A fact in evolution is that an idea is not original by itself but is the result of experience and the sum of several other ideas that preceded it, so it is quite possible that two or more people can get the same idea over the time in different ways with little or minimal difference. The recent SurfCast demand against the Windows 8 operating system and its live tiles, highlights the obvious, sooner or later many think the same. But that will be evaluated by the appropriate court. Interestingly Albert Einstein, who conceived one of the great ideas with his theory of relativity, worked in the patent office of the United States.

Then this X corporation makes such data mining services in $ix figures or more numbers pricing on demand: “Tell me what your interest is and we give you all relevant information” as the services market feasibility. Some recent news told us about hackers offering technological espionage with prices in these six figures.

Is it ethical such use and economic gaining of the information belonging to all of us? Yes, as long as it is public with the express consent of its creator. This is because information is a land of opportunity but also requires of very large capital investments.

Should have some cost to the corporation that exploits this information? Well, while the community is rewarded with cheaper or free services, as does the Google ecosystem: we use your information, we help you to easily access it (google search), we offer you free storage (Google Drive) and free tools to access it (google docs, etc.). An ecosystem that feeds itself into an infinite loop…

With the rise of services like Twitter, blogs and other media and the temptation/natural tendency of each and every one of us to share what is happening to us or “what I’m thinking”, I could say that the analogy that the hypothalamus is to the brain what twitter is for ideas, (the shortest way to communicate) holds. Such services facilitate the use of data mining which would use the corporation X.

Today we all are just a bit away from each other, so we can “feel and think” what the “other is thinking.” Two days ago I thought of something and today somebody is talking about. It seems that I have had a déjà-vu.

Imagine of another marketing sub-corporations (corporations created by or in the service of large technology corporations) that feed from this flow of ideas and strengthen its image as a reliable source of technology products reviewers (cnet, techcrunch, engadget, etc.) and they recommend or otherwise try to kill the product from the competition, simply by “listening” to the feelings of all of us. I mean, it is very possible and I think it’s a fact they have a robot (program) analyzing the common feeling on twitter for example, configured according to certain parameters (some new product) and if someone says or provides a new idea on the parameters, the editor and/or their teams immediately generate a news article or blog where they exploit this very idea.

This article was written but not yet completed several days ago and today I’m surprised by the news: IBM predicts Steampunk fashion will be among some of us this year. Funny doesn’t it?

Finally, the question of the USD 6 million (better to say billion), is indeed are we already technologically mature enough to have a crystal ball? Google, IBM and/or others already have it? And of course its ethical, economic and transcendental importance while we all are running forward downstream pulled by the gravitational force of evolution.


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