Re: The next step for intelligent virtual assistants: It’s time to consolidate

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Bob Frankston.  DLH]

From: “Bob Frankston” <>
Subject: RE: [Dewayne-Net] The next step for intelligent virtual assistants: It’s time to consolidate
Date: September 1, 2014 at 15:00:07 EDT



“Consolidation carries real risks, but it is generally a sign of
technological maturation” — or it can be the sign of failure of imagination
and another end of history.

The article is a sales pitch but I do find it of concern since these
assistants need to have privileged access to every aspect of your life in
order to provide the feigned caring and sincerity. You can’t allow just any
program do have that access and you can’t allow ambiguity. You may have to
choose your cult and stay within it to get the full benefits (Amazon, Apple,
Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc.) of the singular future within a
hierarchical world in the cloud.

“Assistant — book me a flight to Paris (to find romance)”. It may respond
“I was going to reserve a flight but I know that all you will find is
disappointment so I’m saving you the trouble and will instead will introduce
you to my therapist persona, Eliza”.

The next step for intelligent virtual assistants: It’s time to consolidate
By Nova Spivack, Bottlenose
Sep 1 2014

What It Will Take To Live In An Electric Car Society

What It Will Take To Live In An Electric Car Society
By Nitish Kannan
Aug 27 2014

One of the most disruptive technologies that will transform the 21st century will be the shift from a fossil fuel based transportation society to a purely electric car society. The electric car will cause a major disruption in the grid, energy generation and how we “fill up” our personal transport vehicles each day.

I predict that within 16 years almost all our cars will be plug in vehicles based on a few market trends. The reason for it might take that much time is that it will take our human civilization many steps to get to the point where a vast majority of all transport comprises of plug in electric cars. So to get right to it, what does it take to live in a fully electric car society by 2030?

There are three factors being addressed today that will make plug in vehicles vastly superior to all forms of transport and make electric cars the only choice that makes sense for consumers. First factor is availability of better batteries as well as making enough of them to keep up the capacity needed if every car were an EV.  The second most importance factor would be rapid expansion of free supercharging stations similar to how Tesla has covered three continents with free solar powered supercharger stations. Finally, the third factor to be addressed is having enough solar power that provides free electricity. This would enable car makers and utilities to sell enough power to make a profit and still provide free electric car charging to EV car owners. I believe that having free charging is one of the most important aspects to making the electric car transition a viable and appealing option to consumers as Tesla has done today.

One of the important issues that must be addressed to make every car sold to be electric by 2030 is making sure that there are enough batteries to supply to all the car makers (i.e., with enough lithium cells to power their electric vehicles). It is estimated that soon Tesla alone will use more lithium battery cells than all the computer and mobile phone manufacturers combined. Moreover, to address this particular issue, Tesla is building a so called “Gigafactory” just to eliminate battery production constraints so it can manufacture over 500,000 electric cars per year. I predict that many more like these will need to constructed globally to make lithium cells for electric cars at a very cheap rate.

Another issue regarding the topic of battery cells is making sure that batteries have adequate capacity for electric vehicles range. Despite the fact that the Tesla can do 250+ miles a charge, having a larger capacity battery will make charging less frequent for consumers. For instance, a new solid state battery technology in labs today could in theory make a lithium battery pack have twice the capacity and cost a third less. This would enable an electric car like the Tesla to do well over 500 miles on the same battery pack if the cells were replaced with solid state batteries. I believe this will be the breakthrough in the next few years that will make electric cars far cheaper and the range much longer that finally convinces the vast majority of the public to change its perception on electric cars.


Out in the Open: Hackers Build a Skype That’s Not Controlled by Microsoft

Out in the Open: Hackers Build a Skype That’s Not Controlled by Microsoft
Sep 1 2014

The web forum 4chan is known mostly as a place to share juvenile and, to put it mildly, politically incorrect images. But it’s also the birthplace of one of the latest attempts to subvert the NSA’s mass surveillance program.

When whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that full extent of the NSA’s activities last year, members of the site’s tech forum started talking about the need for a more secure alternative to Skype. Soon, they’d opened a chat room to discuss the project and created an account on the code hosting and collaboration site GitHub and began uploading code.

Eventually, they settled on the name Tox, and you can already download prototypes of the surprisingly easy-to-use tool. The tool is part of a widespread effort to create secure online communication tools that are controlled not only by any one company, but by the world at large—a continued reaction to the Snowden revelations. This includes everything from instant messaging tools to email services.

It’s too early to count on Tox to protect you from eavesdroppers and spies. Like so many other new tools, it’s still in the early stages of development and has yet to receive the scrutiny that other security tools, such as the instant messaging encryption plugin Off The Record has. But it endeavors to carve a unique niche within the secure communications ecosystem.

‘Up to Your Imagination’

The main thing the Tox team is trying to do, besides provide encryption, is create a tool that requires no central servers whatsoever—not even ones that you would host yourself. It relies on the same technology that BitTorrent uses to provide direct connections between users, so there’s no central hub to snoop on or take down.

There are other developers trying to build a secure, peer-to-peer messaging systems, including Briar and, a project co-created by HD Moore, the creator of the popular security testing framework Metasploit. And there are other secure-centric voice calling apps, including those from Whisper Systems and Silent Circle, which encrypt calls made through the traditional telco infrastructure. But Tox is trying to roll both peer-to-peer and voice calling into one.

Actually, it’s going a bit further than that. Tox is actually just a protocol for encrypted peer-to-peer data transmission. “Tox is just a tunnel to another node that’s encrypted and secure,” says David Lohle, a spokesperson for the project. “What you want to send over that pipe is up to your imagination.” For example, one developer is building an e-mail replacement with the protocol, and Lohle says someone else is building an open source alternative toBitTorrent Sync.


Putin Threatens Nuclear War Over Ukraine

[Note:  This item comes from friend Shannon McElyea.  DLH]

Putin Threatens Nuclear War Over Ukraine
Raising the spectre of nuclear war over Ukraine, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is playing a new, and dangerous, game.
By Gordon G. Chang
Aug 31 2014

On Friday, as Russian Federation tanks and troops poured across the border into eastern Ukraine, Vladimir Putin talked about his country’s most destructive weaponry. “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations,” he said. “This is a reality, not just words.” Russia, he told listeners, is “strengthening our nuclear deterrence forces.”

That same day, Putin used a term for eastern Ukraine meaning “New Russia.” So when he refers to repelling “any aggression against Russia” and speaks of “nuclear deterrence,” as he did on Friday, the Russian president is really warning us he will use nukes to protect his grab of Ukrainian territory.

For more than a generation, nuclear weapons were considered defensive only. In a few short sentences on Friday, however, Putin made these devices offensive in nature, just another tool to be employed by an aggressor. And to highlight his threat, on Aug. 14 at Yalta, the Crimean city he had seized this year, Putin mentioned “surprising the West with our new developments in offensive nuclear weapons about which we do not talk yet.”

Also in Yalta, where the Duma was meeting, the Russian leader spoke about renouncing the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the U.S. and Russia. The treaty outlaws ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles and is a foundation of the post-Cold War peace.

It is one thing to talk about withdrawing from the pact—Putin has been doing that since 2007—it is another to violate it, which Putin has apparently been doing since 2008, when Russia began testing cruise missiles again. And when the State Department’s Rose Gottemoeller raised the concern in May of last year, Russian officials tried to shut down the dialogue. According to The New York Times, they “said that they had looked into the matter and consider the issue to be closed.”

“Administration officials said the upheaval in Ukraine pushed the issue to the back burner,” the paper reported of the INF violation. Putin, with his comments Friday, just moved it to the front of the stove.

And not just in the European kitchen. If Putin manages to intimidate the West with his not-so-veiled promises to incinerate Ukraine’s defenders, other aggressors may think they too can employ his threatening tactics. For instance, both North Korea and China have recently talked about unleashing Armageddon.


The next step for intelligent virtual assistants: It’s time to consolidate

The next step for intelligent virtual assistants: It’s time to consolidate
By Nova Spivack, Bottlenose
Sep 1 2014

We’re unlikely to see one virtual assistant to rule them all. Rather, we’ll have a team of assistants, each aware of its strengths and weaknesses, collaborating, delegating and stratifying based on the task at hand.

When we talk about the future of artificial intelligence (AI), the discussion often focuses on the advancements and capabilities of the technology, or even the risks and opportunities inherent in the potential cultural implications. What we frequently overlook, however, is the future of AI as a business.

IBM Watson’s recent acquisition and deployment of Cognea signals an important shift in the AI and intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) market, and offers an indication of both of the potentials of AI as a business and the areas where the market still needs development.

The AI business is about to be transformed by consolidation. Consolidation carries real risks, but it is generally a sign of technological maturation. And it’s about time, as AI is no longer simply a side project, or an R&D euphemism. AI is finally center stage.

IBM, for all its investment in the Watson platform, was still missing, among other elements, the “personality” — a critical piece of the virtual assistant puzzle. IBM is betting big on Watson overall, to the tune of $1 billion, and is therefore addressing Watson’s weaknesses aggressively. Assembling the complete puzzle is a non-trivial technological challenge and I’m not at all surprised IBM snapped up Cognea.

One of the companies I advise, Next IT, has gone to great lengths to create IVA’s with fully-developed personas — ranging from SGT STAR for the U.S. Army to Aetna’s Ann. These IVAs have a tone, a personality, a sense of humor and a vernacular custom-suited to their use cases. But even those personalities required proficiency in other facets of the technology, such as an expertly developed domain model. If you chat with the above examples, you’ll see how the two pieces interact very differently.

Because intelligent virtual assistants are focused within a domain model, they benefit from a clearly defined knowledge base and are able to go much deeper and stay within those bounds, whereas general purpose assistants like Apple‘s Siri are often asked to deal with users’ wide-ranging and often disorganized goals.

This is yet another argument for consolidation — building and implementing a cross-domain view of the world is a challenge, very likely bigger than any single company or customer. We likely won’t have “one assistant to rule them all,” but rather a team of assistants, each aware of its strengths and weaknesses, always collaborating in the background, delegating and stratifying based on the task at hand.

Personality is just one example of a shortcoming being addressed. So-called “best of breed” capabilities are scattered all over, and right now the AI market has a lot of niches. Natural language processing is important; machine learning — both statistical and symbolic — is important; domain models and ontologies are important; reasoning is important. The list goes on.


Re: Google’s Project Ara Is Science Fiction, Says Critic

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Chuck Jackson.  DLH]

From: Charles Jackson <>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Google’s Project Ara Is Science Fiction, Says Critic
Date: August 31, 2014 at 15:54:03 EDT

On Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 9:17 PM, Dewayne Hendricks <> wrote:
He also cautions that plug-and-play radios will make testing to pass operator and FCC testing take much longer than regular devices of the same type. Thus the development costs are expected to be much higher, and time to market should take significantly longer than regular devices of the same type. “This means that the device will have to sell in massive volumes in order to make back the very high development costs that have been expended to get it to market.”


If you look at 
you might draw a different conclusion that that in the article.  It seems to me that many of those devices would be a good starting point for a family of LTE devices. 

Look also at:

Chuck ​

Google’s Project Ara Is Science Fiction, Says Critic
By John Walko
Aug 27 2014

QoS — the Intelligent network redux

[Note:  This item comes from friend Bob Frankston.  DLH]

From: Bob Frankston [
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 15:09
Subject: QoS — the Intelligent network redux

The idea that we need to build-in smarts for particular applications is worrisome. Perhaps building in special handling for Netflix may make it work better by some measures but we need to heed the lessons of the intelligent networks of the past. What is QoS via SLA if not the SS7 design point and how does one reconcile that with best efforts? How does one even implement such policies with raw packets detached from their meaning?

Today we are throwing away the SS7 network because innovators like Skype created their own solutions that didn’t depend on network operators and the operators’ definition of QoS. Do we really 

want to go back to operators deciding what services are most valuable to them? VoIP with video now works as a byproduct of increased capacity for other purposes and because we did not build it in.


This diagram is very much like SS7 including the ability to charge for particular services. I’ve pointed this out a number of times on IP. The very term ISP presumes the Internet is a service from a carrier rather than merely a means of reaching a website or a video provider. And how do we define QoS when we accept a 12 hour delay on broadcasting some sports events – do we then demand a low latency path for the last few milliseconds?

To the extent we do have operators managing pipes we need to enforce neutrality. But that’s an interim remedy. The long term solution is to provide incentives to create capacity by having a business model in which the facilities are owned by the users not rent-seekers.

But QoS makes that change more difficult because it requires giving operators full control and gives them the incentive to provide “quality” as a premium offering. If we assume the need to assure QoS there would be less reason for a Comcast to own its own facilities.

It is also worth considering this comment from Roger Bohn’s recent IP post:

No network company would overprovision every part of its network to the point that “congestion is a rare problem.” They would be over-investing, and their ROI would go down correspondingly..)

This is a perfect example of the rationale for creating value through synthetic scarcity.

That said, the issue isn’t congestion per se but rather how we keep the Internet vibrant and reward innovation rather rewarding than those who can buy an advantage. For example why pay an operator to over-provision [sic – who is defining “over”?] when we can do our own caching or use other clever techniques. And why would we want policies that reward carriers for creating scarcity?

I can’t comment on Scott Jordan’s qualifications – I’m just flagging the comments on QoS as problematic. Especially as we consider whether to give a cable TV operator control over so much of the capacity.

Past IP posts:  In 2009 and just this month