Backchannel dives deep into Apple's 'iBrain'
Online tech magazine scores a stunning story
Did you realize that on July 30, 2014, "Siri had a brain transplant?"
Backchannel, a terrific technology and business publication, discloses that after users became chagrined with Siri's weaknesses — most notably, frequently misunderstood commands — Apple "moved Siri voice recognition to a neural-net based system for U.S. users on that late July day (it went worldwide on Aug. 15, 2014.)"
What does that mean? Essentially, "when users made the upgrade, Siri still looked the same, but now it was supercharged with deep learning." So now comes what is claimed to be the tale of "Siri’s transformation, revealed for the first time here," which Backchannel Editor Steven Levy concedes might leave some experts in artificial intelligence initially nonplussed (he quotes one at length). (Backchannel)
Yes, yes, there's an Apple "brain," to the possible ignorance of folks in the field. "It’s already inside your iPhone." There may still be doubting Thomases. But Levy, whose publication is part of Conde Nast and publishes on the Medium platform, says the doubters are wrong and intentionally left in the lurch by a company willing to be generally viewed as behind competitors with AI and so-called machine learning.
This is a fascinating tale that is clearly not a puff piece as it underscores why many talented AI folks won't work for Apple due to a supposed clash between its ability to corral data and its penchant to protect privacy, encrypting much information so that even its own lawyers can't read the data. And this final example of what plays out, seemingly heretofore not fully perceived by the press:
"Other information Apple stores on devices includes probably the most personal data that Apple captures: the words people type using the standard iPhone QuickType keyboard. By using a neural network-trained system that watches while you type, Apple can detect key events and items like flight information, contacts, and appointments — but information itself stays on your phone."
Fox returns fire (predictably)
"Fox News and four executives named in a sexual harassment lawsuit that anchor Andrea Tantaros filed on Aug. 22 have shot back in new court papers, in which they seek arbitration and call Tantaros 'not a victim' but 'an opportunist.'" (The Wrap)
But former Fox boss Roger Ailes, who is a defendant and was forced out amid Gretchen Carlson's unresolved allegations, isn't among those apparently seeking arbitration. Susan Estrich, who represents Ailes and was the campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' failed 1988 presidential run, says she "filed separately to address falsehoods leveled" at Ailes.
It doesn't take much for the press to declare a trend on any topic. So watch for this: the use of a drug called Narcan to deal with drug overdoses. In the past 24 hours there's been similar sagas on KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota and FOX 8 in Cleveland.
CNN takes the "crooked" out of Hillary
Breitbart News and Fox News both made much of it. "CNN is willing to quote Donald Trump’s talking points on Hillary Clinton, but apparently not his nickname for her." (The Hill) "In a continuing effort to cast doubt on his presidential opponent's health, Trump called on Clinton to release her full medical records in a tweet Sunday night."
He referred to her, again, as Crooked Hillary. The "Crooked" vanished in a CNN story on that very email. "A CNN spokesperson told The Hill that 'the tweet should have been shown in its entirety.'" The network changed it to the original in a later story on its website.
I can attest to the impossibility of embarrassing Ann Coulter after several cable TV faux debates with her in the distant past (the last on CNBC in which the host, Larry Kudlow, was her willing, fact-avoiding handmaiden and cheering squad).
So I am nonplussed by word that she was an assigned roaster for a Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe, just taped for upcoming airing. But other roasters in part turned on her, not Lowe. "Ann is one of the most repugnant, hateful, hatchet-face bitches alive," standup comic Jimmy Carr said. "It’s not too late to change, Ann. You could kill yourself!" (The Daily Beast) If he thought he was fighting rhetorical fire with Coulter-like rhetorical fire, he fell short. He was wasting his time.
CNN's "new details"
"New Day" this morning teased how "we have new details" on the candidates' debate preparations. No, when they returned from commercials, they had this New York Times story on the candidates' debate preparations to regurgitate and punditize over ("NYT: Clinton searching for ways to bait Trump.")
It's par for the course. Where would cable and broadcast news be if The Times and other major papers conspiratorially didn't publish for a few mornings? The rhetorical deceptions in which they claim they have breaking news, developing news or will proffer us unwashed viewers "new details," and then simply assume as biblical truth the work of others, are rank.
Over at "Morning Joe," its two co-hosts' are no longer in the Trump tank and are now overseeing their own Trump shark tank. Mika Brzezinski was evincing her doubts about Trump's Wednesday speech. "We're gonna know tomorrow exactly what his plan is," she said with facetiousness no less disguised as, yes, at the latest Monmouth University polls it proceeded to herald.
But there was cable unanimity — or close to it — on the passing of Gene Wilder. The only division amid the homages was on display at "Fox & Friends" where co-host Brian Kilmeade said he was still traumatized by "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," while news reader Heather Nauert said she's shown it at her 6-year-old's birthday party. Now that constituted new details.
Straining for the big picture
Declares The New York Times, "Mr. Weiner’s extramarital behavior also threatens to remind voters about the troubles in the Clintons’ own marriage over the decades, including Mrs. Clinton’s much-debated decision to remain with then-President Bill Clinton after revelations of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Abedin’s choice to separate from her husband evokes the debates that erupted over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the Lewinsky affair, a scandal her campaign wants left in the past."
Some good cancer news
From the BBC: "The world's first cancer vaccine was administered in Australia exactly 10 years ago. Since then, the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has been rolled out across 130 countries and halved the number of new cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine also protects against cancers in the throat and mouth in both men and women." (BBC)
C'est vrai (it's true)
Anyone speak French? "C'est avec regret et tristesse que nous annonçons à nos lecteurs la fin de la parution papier et Internet de Zaman France. Zaman France ne souhaite plus non plus alimenter le prétexte d'une importation en France de la politique turque et de ses règlements de compte." (Zaman)
Oh, it means that the anti-Erdogan French language version Turkey's Zaman shut down in protest of Erdogan's unceasing press crackdowns. (Archy World News)
Why Bernie Madoff and others are crooks
"Why do business executives — people who already possess status and wealth — commit financial crimes?" (Bloomberg) Eugene Soltes, a Harvard Business School associate professor, wrote letters to four dozen convicted criminals, including Bernie Madoff, Andrew Fastow or Enron notoriety, and Dennis Kozlowski, the CEO of Tyco who did time for looting the company of $100 million (remember his $2 million birthday party in Sardinia?) — and got responses.
He "posits that they step over the line — breaking accounting rules or making illegal insider trades — in part because they rely on intuition. And, it turns out, their instincts stink." Kozlowski, who's 69 now and did six years in prison, says, "The board would give me anything I wanted. We believed our own press...With myself and others — even the board — you become consumed a little bit by your own arrogance, and you really think you can do anything."
It's a reminder of outlandish hubris but also (inadvertently) a reality the press doesn't pick up on much, namely the negligence, or at least passivity, of most corporate (and nonprofit) boards in abetting the misdeeds or ineptitude of corporate chieftains.