The KIT ─ Knowledge & Information Technology
No. 186 - 16 February 2017
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In This Issue
Grace Murray Hopper
Data for the People
Ethics in AI
Top 10 Cloud Technologies Market
Alternative HPC Facts?
Seen Recently
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Grace Murray Hooper on Letterman: a Classic
As Yale University decided to rename Calhoun College (named after a 19th-century advocate of slavery and white supremacist) to honor Rear-Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1902-1992), an early computer pioneer who programmed the Mark I computer and invented the COBOL language, a video of her interview by David Letterman in 1986 has resurfaced. In it, she gives her famous demonstration of what a nanosecond is, and hilariously tells how she explained to non-technical military superiors the delays in data transmission by satellite.
Data for the People
Andreas Weigend, a Stanford PhD in Physics, is also an expert in social technology, big data and consumer behavior. He was the Chief Scientist at Amazon and is now involved in a number of startups and organizations that support them. His book "Data for the People" was just published. In it, Dr. Weigend argues that instead of companies doing with our information what they want, mostly without telling us, and us naively believing that our privacy is respected, we should become "data literate" and use this knowledge to manage our information. He lists six "data rights" for individuals, including the right to inspect the data stored about us, the right to correct it, and the right to blur it -- that is, for example, to record the city we were in but not the specific address, or the month but not the day when we were there.
Ethics in Artificial Intelligence
With more projects in machine learning, deep learning and analytics being conducted, the topic of ethics in AI is increasingly popular right now. Guru Batnavar, IBM Chief Science Officer for Cognitive Computing, just published an article in the Huffington Post entitled "The Science of AI and the Art of Social Responsibility." This short article highlights three core principles that the developers of AI systems should follow in order to be socially responsible in their work: "purpose, transparency and opportunity" (read the article to understand what these exactly mean).
Top 10 Cloud Technologies Market
Under this title, ASD Reports has issued one of its high-priced market analyses (the price ranges from $5,650 for a single user to $10,000 for an enterprise), but the summary already provides some interesting information. The "top 10 technologies" covered are:
  • hybrid cloud
  • cloud storage
  • cloud migration
  • cloud orchestration
  • Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS)
  • Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS)
  • multi cloud management
  • Video-as-a-Service (VaaS)
  • cloud analytics
  • Wi-Fi-as-a-Service
The key players listed in those areas are IBM, Cisco, VMware, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Rackspace, Google and SAP. The market forecasts cover the years 2017-2021.
Alternative HPC Facts?
The February 6 edition of the thrice-weekly ACM TechNews, usually a good source of stories on advances in computer science, quoted verbatim and uncritically a gloating report in China Money Network about the performance of the Tianhe-1 supercomputer. A sentence like this, however, makes you shake your head and wonder what else in the article might be wrong: "The supercomputer achieved a result of 563.1 teraflops, marking the birth of the first petaflops supercomputer in China, the fastest in Asia and fifth fastest in the world at the time" (2009). What was the ACM editor thinking? The computer was designed to reach 1206 teraflops, which is indeed more than a petaflop, but I don't need a supercomputer to tell you that 563 < 1000.

The article ends by saying that China's National Supercomputer Center is planning a machine that would have 200 times the performance of Tianhe-1 by 2020, which means about 100 petaflops, but the Sunway TaihuLight in Wuxi has already achieved 93 petaflops in the November 2016 ranking. So go figure... which you can do from the official ranking on the TOP500 Web site.
Seen Recently...
"The biggest threat to innovation is internal politics and an organizational culture, which doesn't accept failure and/or doesn't accept ideas from outside, and/or cannot change."
-- Gartner July 2016 Financial Services Innovation Survey
(the odd punctuation and syntax is theirs)
"Essentially, digital transformation is a change in the topology of the economic and social networks."
-- Carlos Viniegra, from Cutter Mexico, in a presentation on
"Blockchain, the shared economy, AI and the dawn of the digital age"
at a Software Guru conference in Mexico City yesterday