A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 22, 2019

Google's Instant Translator Can Make People Sound Fluent In Foreign Language

"I'll have what she's having." In Chinese. JL

Devin Coldewey reports in Tech Crunch:

Google takes spoken sentences in one language and outputs spoken words in another — but unlike most translation techniques, it uses no intermediate text, working solely with the audio. This makes it quick, but more importantly lets it more easily reflect the cadence and tone of the speaker’s voice. The process makes it easy to retain the character of the source voice, so the translation doesn’t come out robotically, but with the tone and cadence of the original sentence.

How AI Can Predict Opioid Overdoes From Crime and Socio-Economic Data

It's basically economic profiling, with the ostensibly added benefit of being able to predict future behavior...as if having knowledgeable social scientists naming them, to say nothing of the fact that driving through such neighborhoods would make it obvious to even the casual observer.

Which is why there is such concern about sources and uses of AI. JL

Kyle Wiggers reports in Venture Beat:

The algorithm  learns numerical representation of the “dynamics” in communities that share similar behaviors. Features) from communities inform predictions for given locations within the AI model, and identify which local and global features are most predictive. Static included census data about economic status, education level, vacant housing, median household income, high school graduation rates, and the dynamic features captured per-neighborhood crime stats

It's Not Just Huawei: How Trade Fight Could Disrupt Tech's Global Supply Chain

In an industry as incestuously interdependent as tech - and in a global economy that now runs on tech - attempting to differentiate between friends and foes could create unforeseen difficulties and unintended consequences to sales, employment and market share everywhere. JL

Graham Webster reports in the Washington Post:

The U.S. government now can block or require conditions for transactions involving ICT products or services even tenuously linked to a “foreign adversary” — a category the executive order defines flexibly as a country, company or person. Qualcomm, Seagate and Intel are Huawei’s top U.S. suppliers, by revenue. NeoPhotonics pulls 47% of its revenue from Huawei. (And)  Huawei is the global leader in 5G equipment. Continued services and upgrades are crucial for network providers, so (this) could slow wireless upgrades overall.

Tiring of Wage Wars, Factories Compete For Blue Collar Labor With Perks, Benefits

Facing relentless pressure to cut costs while finding enough workers to fill orders, manufacturers are offering the same sort of flexible schedules, benefits and other non-paycheck amenities that programmers and other office workers increasingly demand. And it's working. JL

John Stoll reports in the Wall Street Journal:

The No. 1 human-resources risk executives face is excessive time required to fill open positions. The median cost to recruit an employee is $1,300.By shaking up shift scheduling, investing in amenities for workers or offering more flex time, treating blue-collar workers more like white-collar may convince them to sign on or stick around. Polled  hourly employees ranked pay near the top, but respondents gave equal weight to a positive work environment and schedules that fit their lifestyle. "This wage war isn't winnable."

With Full Employment, Flexible Work Arrangements Become Popular Again

Data suggest flexible work arrangements are beneficial, but it is unclear whether they will become a permanent feature of the economy or an expedient driven by the war for talent which will be retracted once unemployment rises in the next cycle. JL

Claire Miller reports in the New York Times:

Driven by competition for workers, more employers offer flexibility (while providing stable wages and benefits, unlike the gig economy).68% allow workers to telecommute as needed. 27% offer the flexibility to work outside normal business hours. Long and unpredictable hours have spread from law, finance and consulting to many other jobs. It’s one of the reasons that Americans have among the lowest levels of happiness and work-life balance in the developed world. Half of workers say they would switch jobs if they found one that offered to adjust their schedule as needed and setting their own schedule was equivalent to a 9% wage increase

Why CEOs Are Embracing 'Net Promoter Score' As A Performance Metric

Fools' gold? False hope? Distraction? Misinformation? Fad: as in another dubious metric like TQM, CRM and others flogged by management consultants? 

Maybe. Or maybe its another signal to both Wall Street (as well as its avatars like the Wall Street Journal, which fears it's own money-making metrics will be rendered irrelevant) and the accounting industry that industrial age GAAP accounting is increasingly meaningless as a management tool and that unless they take action to reform financial and operational management reporting, leaders can, will - and should - embrace measures that more accurately reflect their organization's reality. JL

Khadeeja Safdar and Inti Pacheco report in the Wall Street Journal:

The score is derived from customer responses to a question at checkout, in email or online: On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend the company’s product or service to a friend? NPS is based on the premise that every company’s customers can be divided into. “Promoters,” or loyal enthusiasts who keep buying, “detractors,” or “passives." The score is determined by subtracting the percent of  detractors from promoters.Last year, “NPS” was cited  150 times in earnings calls by S&P 500 companies (and) in 56 proxy filings (including) American Express, Delta, Best Buy, Intuit, Target, United Health Citigroup, IBM, Schwab.

May 21, 2019

Google Glass Is Back With New Frames - And A New Purpose

For work, not for showing people in bars that you think you're cool.JL

Scott Stein reports in Cnet:

Glass has become an enterprise-targeted device, and has been used in a variety of other assistive ways. Other AR headsets have been moving into the enterprise space. The latest Glass is compatible with new Smith safety glass frames, which can make it compatible in more workplaces (and look a little more normal), with other frames options coming later. The new hardware charges faster, has better battery life, better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a better camera and it supports Android Enterprise Mobile Device Management