Tag Archive | "Machine"

PPC and machine learning: Where do we draw the line on automation?

During SMX Advanced, Frederick Vallaeys and Brad Geddes examine automation and need to understand the potential impact of unintended consequences.



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How McDonald’s Is Using Data, Machine Learning, and AI to Accelerate Growth

“Our acquisition of Dynamic Yield has brought us a lot of excitement,” says McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook. “Very simply put, in the online world when we’re shopping and we pick an item and put it into our shopping basket, any website will automatically suggest two or three things to go along with it. We’re the first business that we’re aware of that can bring that into the physical world. It’s really just taking data and machine learning and AI, all these sorts of technical capabilities.”

Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s, discusses how the company is using technology to elevate the customer experience and accelerate growth in an interview on CNBC:

Continue To See How We Can Elevate the Customer Experience

As we’ve executed the growth plan we’ve spent the first two years, three or four years ago, turning the business around. Now we’ve had a couple of years of growth. We’re confident now that we’re beginning to identify further opportunities to further accelerate growth. That takes a little bit of research and development cost. It means you’ve got to bring some expertise into the business to help us do that. We’re still managing to effectively run the business. G&A is staying the same and we’re putting a little bit more into innovation.

We continue to see how can we help continue to elevate the experience for customers. With this pace of change in the world and with different technology and different innovations, whether it’s around food, technology, or design, we’re seeing opportunities that we think can either make the experience more fun and enjoyable or smoother for customers. If we can find that we’re going to go hard at it.

We need to continue growing. If where we are investing that money is helping drive growth across 38,000 restaurants then I think the shareholders and investors would be satisfied. We want to bring our owner-operators along with us as well. They’re investing their hard-earned dollars so that always means we got a business case. The owner-operators will want to see a return on their investment just the same as a shareholder would. We’ve got a wonderful check and balance in the system to help us make sure we spend that innovative money in the right way.

Using Data, Machine Learning, and AI to Accelerate Growth

Our acquisition of Dynamic Yield has brought us a lot of excitement. It was our first acquisition for 20 years. It was an acquisition in a way that was different from the past. It wasn’t looking at different restaurant businesses to try and expand our footprint. It’s bringing a capability, an IP and some talent, into our business that can help us accelerate the growth model. We completed the deal mid-April and within two weeks we had that technical capability in 800 drive-throughs here in the U.S. It’s a very rapid execution and implementation.

Very simply put, in the online world when we’re shopping and we pick an item and put it into our shopping basket, any website we’re on these days will automatically suggest two or three things to go along with it. People who buy that tend to like these things as well. We’re the first business that we’re aware of that can bring that into the physical world. As customers are at the menu board, maybe they’re ordering a coffee and we can suggest a dessert or they’re ordering a quarter pounder with cheese and we can suggest making that into a meal. It’s really just taking data and machine learning and AI, all these sorts of technical capabilities.

Mining All of the Data Will Improve the Business

The best benefit for customers is we’re more likely to suggest things they do want and less likely to suggest things they don’t. It’ll just be a nicer experience for the customer. But yes, for the restaurant itself, because we can put our drive-thru service lines in there, for example, the technical capability by mining all of the data will be to suggest items are easier to make at our busier times. That’ll help smooth the operation as well. The immediate result will be some ticket (increases). But frankly, if the overall experience is better customers come back more often. That’s ultimately where the success will be, driving repeat visits and getting people back more often.

Across the entire sector, traffic is tight right now and people are eating out less. They have been progressively eating out less for a number of years. Whether it’s the advent of home delivery, for example, which is something we participate in, but at the moment it’s just a little bit tight out there. It’s a fight for market share. Anyone who is getting growth, typically it’s because they’re adding new units. People are finding it hard to (increase) guest count growth. It’s something that we have stated as an ambition of ours. We think that’s a measure of the true health of the business. Last quarter, we did grow traffic and we’ve grown traffic for the last couple of years, but only modestly. We want to be stronger than that.

How McDonald’s Is Using Data, Machine Learning, and AI to Accelerate Growth

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Machine Learning Should Be Used to Deliver Great Brand Experiences, Says PagerDuty CEO

PagerDuty began trading on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time this morning and is now trading at more than 60% above their IPO price of $ 24. That gives the company a market capitalization of more than $ 2.7 billion. PagerDuty offers a SAAS platform that monitors IT performance. The company had sales of $ 118 million for its last fiscal year, up close to 50% over the previous year.

The company uses machine learning to inform companies in real-time about technical issues. “Our belief is that machine learning and data should be used in the service of making people better, helping people do their jobs more effectively, and delivering those great brand experiences every time,” says PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada. “PagerDuty is really about making sure that our users understand that this could be a good thing, being woken up in the middle of the night if it’s for the right problem. It’s a way that can help you deliver a much better experience for your customers.”

Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty, discusses their IPO and how machine learning should be used to deliver great brand experiences in an interview on CNBC:

It’s Gotten Harder for Human’s to Manage the Entire IT Ecosystem

If you think about the world today, it’s an always-on world. We as consumers expect every experience to be perfect. Every time you wake up in the morning, you order your coffee online, you check Slack to communicate with your team, and maybe you take a Lyft into work. Sitting behind all of that is a lot of complexity, many digital and infrastructure based platforms, that don’t always work together the way you’d expect them to. As that complexity has proliferated over the years and because developers can deploy what they like and can use the tools that they want it’s gotten harder for human beings to really manage the entire ecosystem even as your demands increase.

You want it perfect, you want it right now and you want it the way you’d like it to be. PagerDuty is the platform that brings the right problem to the right person at the right time. We use machine learning, sitting on ten years of data, data on humans behavior and data on all these signals there that are happening through the system, and it really helps the developers that sit behind these great experiences to deliver the right experience all the time.

Machine Learning Should Be Used to Deliver Great Brand Experiences

Going public is the right time for us right now because there’s an opportunity for us to deliver the power of our platform to users all over the world. We are a small company and we weren’t as well-known as we could be and this is a great opportunity to extend our brand and help developers and employees across teams and IT security and customer support to deliver better experiences for their end customers all the time.

At PagerDuty we take customer trust and user trust very seriously. We publish our data policy and we will not use data in a way other than what we describe online. We care deeply about the relationship between our users in our platform. Our belief is that machine learning and data should be used in the service of making people better, helping people do their jobs more effectively, and delivering those great brand experiences every time. PagerDuty is really about making sure that our users understand that this could be a good thing, being woken up in the middle of the night if it’s for the right problem. It’s a way that can help you deliver a much better experience for your customers.

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Machine reservations: Google’s Duplex expanding to more Android, iPhone users

The technology appears to be ready for prime time as Google readies machine-based booking for categories beyond restaurants.



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How Palo Alto Networks Blocks 30,000 New Pieces of Malware Daily Via AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data

“The platform we have uses big data analytics and machine learning in the cloud to process and find all of the unknown malware, make it known and be able to block it,” says Scott Stevens, SVP, Global  Systems Engineering at Palo Alto Networks. “We find 20-30 thousand brand new pieces of malware every day. We’re analyzing millions and millions of files every day to figure out which ones are malicious. Once we know, within five minutes we’re updating the security posture for all of our connected security devices globally.”

Scott Stevens, SVP, Global  Systems Engineering at Palo Alto Networks, discusses how the company uses AI, machine learning, and big data to find and block malware for its customers in an interview with Jeff Frick of theCUBE which is covering RSA Conference 2019 in San Francisco:

We Find 20-30 Thousand New Pieces of Malware Every Day

There are two ways to think about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics. The first is if we’re looking at how are we dealing with malware and finding unknown malware and blocking it, we’ve been doing that for years. The platform we have uses big data analytics and machine learning in the cloud to process and find all of the unknown malware, make it known and be able to block it.

We find 20-30 thousand brand new pieces of malware every day. We’re analyzing millions and millions of files every day to figure out which ones are malicious. Once we know, within five minutes we’re updating the security posture for all of our connected security devices globally.

Whether it’s endpoint software or it’s our inline next gen firewalls we’re updating all of our signatures so that the unknown is now known and the known can be blocked. That’s whether we’re watching to block the malware coming in or the command-and-control that’s using via DNS and URL to communicate and start whatever it’s going to do. You mentioned crypto lockers and there are all kinds of things that can happen. That’s one vector of using AI NML to prevent the ability for these attacks to succeed.

Machine Learning Uses Data Lake to Discover Malware

The other side of it is how do we then take some of the knowledge and the lessons we’ve learned for what we’ve been doing now for many years in discovering malware and apply that same AI NML locally to that customer so that they can detect very creative attacks very and evasive attacks or that insider threat that employee who’s behaving inappropriately but quietly.

We’ve announced over the last week what we call the cortex XDR set of offerings. That involves allowing the customer to build an aggregated data lake which uses the Zero Trust framework which tells us how to segment and also puts sensors in all the places of the network. This includes both network sensors an endpoint as we look at security the endpoint as well as the network links. Using those together we’re able to stitch those logs together in a data lake that machine learning can now be applied to on a customer by customer basis.

Maybe somebody was able to evade because they’re very creative or that insider threat again who isn’t breaking security rules but they’re being evasive. We can now find them through machine learning. The cool thing about Zero Trust is the prevention architecture that we needed for Zero Trust becomes the sensor architecture for this machine learning engine. You get dual purpose use out of the architecture of Zero Trust to solve both the in-line prevention and the response architecture that you need.

How Palo Alto Networks Blocks 30,000 New Pieces of Malware Daily

>> Read a companion piece to this article here:

Zero Trust Focuses On the Data That’s Key to Your Business

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AI, Machine Learning, and Robotics Are Fundamentally Changing Healthcare, Says Johnson & Johnson CEO

AI, machine learning, and robotics are fundamentally changing healthcare, says Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky. “One of the most exciting parts of my job right now is to see the technology that’s usually equated with California and the West Coast,” said Gorsky. “Whether it’s AI, machine learning or robotics, you’re seeing it more and more being integrated into healthcare.”

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson CEO, discusses the reinvention of healthcare via technological innovation in an interview on CNBC’s Mad Money:

AI, Machine Learning, Robotics Integrated Into Healthcare

One of the most exciting parts of my job right now is to see the technology that’s usually equated with California and the West Coast. Whether it’s AI, machine learning or robotics, you’re seeing it more and more being integrated into healthcare. With this remarkable partnership that we have now with Apple where we’re taking this technology built into the iWatch to help detect things like atrial fibrillation or when you get a heart fluttering earlier. We know that there are over 35 million people around the world that suffer from this condition.

If we can detect that earlier we can get them to write medication and we can help them be compliant on these medications over a longer period of time. Ultimately we’re going to save lives. I think it really shows how some of this new technology is coming to healthcare in new, innovative, and unique ways. We couldn’t have even imagined this just a few years ago. We’re talking about algorithms that are built into the watch that are monitoring health in real-time. It can detect these anomalies far before something really manifests itself that the patient’s going to recognize in the terms of symptoms.

Robotics Technology Fundamentally Changing Healthcare

Auris (recently acquired) is another great example of how this technology is fundamentally changing the way we’re thinking about healthcare. Today, less than five percent of surgeries are done with a robot or digitally. In the future, we think that’s going to be significantly greater. What we’re so excited about is just as technology has changed the way that we drive a car, where you pull up your map system or you see that light go on if you start to change lanes, think about that in surgery.

Robotics Technology via Auris is Fundamentally Changing Healthcare

Suddenly, a surgeon can go in preoperatively, utilized imaging to help him or her really navigate their way specifically to the lesion, and they can actually get guidance. We know that’s going to lead to better precision, better outcomes for the patient, and better value overall for the healthcare system.

Healthcare Being Reinvented by Technology

Think of it, for example, with our Auris Monarch Platform which is used for something called bronchoscopy. Now, if you happen to have a lesion or a tumor at a very far out section in your lung, they, of course, would have to go in through minimally invasive surgery to do a biopsy to better diagnose what you have. Imagine we take a tree and turn it upside down and that tree is your lung. We can run this wire down through the system, way out to the outer ends of the leaf. Think of it almost like the acorn.

Once we get there we can do a biopsy or we can use imaging in the future to actually determine what kind of a cancer it is, or we could deliver a therapeutic, perhaps a new kind of immuno-oncology agent to that specific lesion, or we could go ahead and cut it out. Those are the kinds of things are being made possible by this new technology at a company like Auris.

AI, Machine Learning, and Robotics Are Fundamentally Changing Healthcare

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How LinkedIn is Using Machine Learning to Determine Skills

One of the more interesting reveals that Dan Francis, Senior Product Manager for LinkedIn Talent Insights, provided in a recent talk about the Talent Insights tool is how LinkedIn is using machine learning to determine skills of people. He says that there are now over 575 million members in the LinkedIn database and there are 35,000 standardized skills in LinkedIn’s skills taxonomy. The way LinkedIn is figuring out what skills a member has is via machine learning technology.

Dan Francis, Senior Product Manager, LinkedIn Talent Insights, discussed Talent Insights in a recent LinkedIn video embedded below:

LinkedIn Using Machine Learning to Determine Skills

The skills data in Talent Insights comes from a variety of sources, mainly from a member’s profile. There are over 35,000 standardized skills that we have in LinkedIn’s skills taxonomy, and the way we’re figuring out what skills a member has is using machine learning. We can identify skills that a member has that’s based on things that they explicitly added to their profile.

The other thing that we’ll do is look at the text of the profile. There’s a field of machine learning called natural language processing and we’re basically using that. It’s scanning through all the words that are on a member’s profile, and when we can determine that it’s pertaining to the member, as oppose the company or another subject, we’ll say okay, we think that this member has this skill. We also look at other attributes, like their title or the company, to make sure they actually are very likely to have that skill.

The last thing that we’ll do is look at the skills a member has and figure out what are skill relationships. So as an example, let’s say that a member has Ember, which is a type of JavaScript framework, since we know that they know Ember, they also know JavaScript. So if somebody’s running a search like that, we’ll surface them in the results. I think that the most important reason why this is helpful and the real benefit to users of the platform is when you’re searching, you want to get as accurate a view of the population as possible. What we’re trying to do is look at all the different signals that we possibly have to represent that view.  

575 Million People on LinkedIn Globally and Adding 2 Per Second

Today, LinkedIn has over 575 million members that are on the platform globally. This is actually growing at a pretty rapid clip, so we’re adding about two members per second. One of the great things about LinkedIn is that we’re actually very well represented in terms of the professional workforce globally. If you look at the top 30 economies around the world, we actually have the majority of professionals in all of those economies.

LinkedIn is the World’s Largest Aggregator of Jobs

I think there’s often a perception that most of the data’s directly from LinkedIn, stuff that’s posted on LinkedIn and job status is one notable exception to that. Plenty of companies and people will post jobs on LinkedIn, and that’s information that does get surfaced. However, we’re also the world’s largest aggregator of jobs. At this point there are over 20 million jobs that are on LinkedIn.

The way that we’re getting that information is we’re working with over 40,000 partners. These are job boards, ATS’s, and direct customer relationships. We’re collecting all of those jobs, standardizing them, and showing them on our platform. The benefit is not just for displaying the data in Talent Insights, the benefit is also when members are searching on LinkedIn.com, we’re giving them as representative a view of the job market as possible.

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Etsy CEO: Machine Learning is Opening Up a Whole New Opportunity

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman says that “machine learning is opening up a whole new opportunity” for the company to organize 50 million items into a discovery platform that makes buying an enjoyable experience and also is profitable for sellers.

Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy, recently talked about their much-improved business and why it is working so well with Jim Cramer on CNBC:

Our Mission is Keeping Commerce Human

Our mission is keeping commerce human. It’s really about in a world where automation is changing the nature of work and we’re all buying more and more commoditized things from the same few fulfillment centers. Allowing someone to harness their creative energy and turn that creativity into a business and then connect with someone in the other part of the country or in another part of the world, that’s really special. We think there’s an ever-increasing need for that in this world.

It’s about value. We’ve been really focused on delivering more value for our makers. Etsy really is a platform that brings buyers to sellers and that’s very valuable. We raised our commission from 3.5 to 5 percent commission which was I think is fair value for our sellers, particularly because we’re reinvesting 80 percent of that into the growth of the platform.

Free shipping is pretty much table stakes today. Yet only about 20 percent of items have free shipping. About half of all the items on Etsy buyers say have shipping prices that are too high and yet we grew GMS at 20 percent last quarter.

Machine Learning is Opening Up a Whole New Opportunity

Machine learning is opening up a whole new opportunity for us to take 50 million items from two million makers and make sense of that for people. We have 37 million active buyers now and many of them come just for discovery, just to see what they can find, and that is exactly the right thing for someone out there. Our job is to create that love connection. Etsy over the past 14 years, with a large team effort, has I think done a great job.

One thing I want to emphasize is the quality and the craftsmanship with so many of the products on Etsy. That’s something that has been such a delight for me. People like Kringle Workshops that make these incredible products. What we have been doing a better job and need to continue to do a better job of really surfacing the beautiful artisanally crafted products that are available at a really fair price. You’re not having to pay for warehousing, you’re not having to pay for all the other things that mass-produce things have to pay for, you’re buying directly from the person who made it. So it can be both beautiful, handcrafted, and well priced.

There are 2 million sellers, 87 percent of them are women, over 90 percent are working from home or are businesses of one, who can create a global business from their garage or their living room. Etsy does provide a real sense of community for them and that’s really powerful.

Amazon May Open New HQ in Queens Near Etsy

We feel great about our employee value proposition and come what may. Here’s what we have going for us. We think we’ve got the best team, certainly in tech companies on the eastern seaboard. We think ours is the best and we continue to attract great talent. The reason is, first and foremost, our mission is really a meaningful important mission and that matters. Great people want to work in a place with a great mission.

Second, our technology challenges are interesting. For example, search and using machine learning to make sense of 50 million items that don’t map to a catalog. Third, our culture is really special. We have been a company that’s authentically cared about diversity from the beginning. Over 50 percent of our executive staff are women, we have a balanced board, 50 percent male and female, and 32 percent of our engineers are female, which is twice the industry average. People who care about diversity and inclusion really want to come to work at Etsy. All of that is going for us and we’re happy to compete with whoever we need to.

Earnings Call Comments by Etsy CEO:

Active Buyers Grew 17 Percent

Etsy’s growth accelerated again in the third quarter to nearly 21% on a constant-currency basis. Revenue growth exceeded 41%, fueled by the launch of our new pricing structure, and our adjusted EBITDA margins grew to nearly 23%, while we also increased our investments in the business.

Active buyers grew 17% to 37 million worldwide. This is the fourth consecutive quarter that GMS has grown faster than active buyers, evidence that we are seeing increased buyer activity on the platform, which is a key proxy for improvement in frequency. We grew the number of active sellers by 8% and GMS per active seller is also increasing.

Two principal levers contributed to our progress this past quarter. The first is our continued product investment, focused on improving the shopping experience on Etsy. By making it easier to find and buy the great products available for sale on Etsy, we’re doing a better job converting visits into purchases. The second lever was our new pricing structure, which enabled us to ramp up investments in marketing, shipping improvements and customer support.

Successful Cloud Migration

We achieved a significant milestone in our cloud migration this quarter, successfully migrating our marketplace, Etsy.com, and our mobile applications to the Google Cloud with minimal disruption to buyers and sellers. This increases our confidence that the migration will be complete by the end of 2019.

Once fully migrated, we expect to dramatically increase the velocity of experiments and product development to iterate faster and leverage more complex search and machine learning models with the goal of rapidly innovating, improving search and ultimately driving GMS growth.

In fact, we’re beginning to see some of those benefits today based on the systems we’ve already migrated. I’d like to thank our engineering team for their incredible work to get this – get us to this point.

 

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SearchCap: Facebook food ordering, Google Posts automation & machine learning

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Grist for the Machine

Grist

Much like publishers, employees at the big tech monopolies can end up little more than grist.

Products & product categories come & go, but even if you build “the one” you still may lose everything in the process.

Imagine building the most successful consumer product of all time only to realize:’The iPhone is the reason I’m divorced,’ Andy Grignon, a senior iPhone engineer, tells me. I heard that sentiment more than once throughout my dozens of interviews with the iPhone’s key architects and engineers.’Yeah, the iPhone ruined more than a few marriages,’ says another.

Microsoft is laying off thousands of salespeople.

Google colluded with competitors to sign anti-employee agreements & now they are trying to hold down labor costs with modular housing built on leased government property. They can tout innovation they bring to Africa, but at their core the tech monopolies are still largely abusive. What’s telling is that these companies keep using their monopoly profits to buy more real estate near their corporate headquarters, keeping jobs there in spite of the extreme local living costs.

“There’s been essentially no dispersion of tech jobs,’ said Mr. Kolko, who conducted the research.’Which metro is the next Silicon Valley? The answer is none, at least for the foreseeable future. Silicon Valley still stands apart.’

Making $ 180,000 a year can price one out of the local real estate market, requiring living in a van or a two hour commute. An $ 81,000 salary can require a 3 hour commute.

If you are priced out of the market by the monopoly de jour, you can always pray!

The hype surrounding transformative technology that disintermediates geography & other legacy restraints only lasts so long: “The narrative isn’t the product of any single malfunction, but rather the result of overhyped marketing, deficiencies in operating with deep learning and GPUs and intensive data preparation demands.”

AI is often a man standing behind a curtain.

The big tech companies are all about equality, opportunity & innovation. At some point either the jobs move to China or China-like conditions have to move to the job. No benefits, insurance cost passed onto the temp worker, etc.

Google’s outsourced freelance workers have to figure out how to pay for their own health insurance:

A manager named LFEditorCat told the raters in chat that the pay cut had come at the behest of’Big G’s lawyers,’ referring to Google. Later, a rater asked Jackson,’If Google made this change, can Google reverse this change, in theory?’ Jackson replied,’The chances of this changing are less than zero IMO.’

That’s rather unfortunate, as the people who watch the beheading videos will likely need PTSD treatment.

The tech companies are also leveraging many “off the books” employees for last mile programs, where the wage is anything but livable after the cost of fuel, insurance & vehicle maintenance. They are accelerating the worst aspects of consolidated power:

America really is undergoing a radical change in the structure of our political economy. And yet this revolutionary shift of power, control, and wealth has remained all but unrecognized and unstudied … Since the 1990s, large companies have increasingly relied on temporary help to do work that formerly was performed by permanent salaried employees. These arrangements enable firms to hire and fire workers with far greater flexibility and free them from having to provide traditional benefits like unemployment insurance, health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacations. The workers themselves go by many different names: temps, contingent workers, contractors, freelancers. But while some fit the traditional sense of what it means to be an entrepreneur or independent business owner, many, if not most, do not-precisely because they remain entirely dependent on a single power for their employment.

Dedication & devotion are important traits. Are you willing to do everything you can to go the last mile? “Lyft published a blog post praising a driver who kept picking up fares even after she went into labor and was driving to the hospital to give birth.”

Then again, the health industry is a great driver of consumption:

About 1.8 million workers were out of the labor force for “other” reasons at the beginning of this year, meaning they were not retired, in school, disabled or taking care of a loved one, according to Atlanta Federal Reserve data. Of those people, nearly half — roughly 881,000 workers — said in a survey that they had taken an opioid the day before, according to a study published last year by former White House economist Alan Krueger.”

Creating fake cancer patients is a practical way to make sales.

That is until they stop some of the scams & view those people as no longer worth the economic cost. Those people are only dying off at a rate of about 90 people a day. Long commutes are associated with depression. And enough people are taking anti-depressants that it shows up elsewhere in the food chain.

Rehabilitation is hard work:

After a few years of buildup, Obamacare kicked the scams into high gear. …. With exchange plans largely locked into paying for medically required tests, patients (and their urine) became gold mines. Some labs started offering kickbacks to treatment centers, who in turn began splitting the profits with halfway houses that would tempt clients with free rent and other services. … Street-level patient brokers and phone room lead generators stepped up to fill the beds with strategies across the ethical spectrum, including signing addicts up for Obamacare and paying their premiums.

Google made a lot of money from that scam until it got negative PR coverage.

At the company, we’re family. Once you are done washing the dishes, you can live in the garage. Just make sure you juice!

When platform monopolies dictate the roll-out of technology, there is less and less innovation, fewer places to invest, less to invent. Eventually, the rhetoric of innovation turns into DISRUPT, a quickly canceled show on MSNBC, and Juicero, a Google-backed punchline.

This moment of stagnating innovation and productivity is happening because Silicon Valley has turned its back on its most important political friend: antitrust. Instead, it’s embraced what it should understand as the enemy of innovation: monopoly.

And the snowflake narrative not only relies on the “off the books” marginalized freelance employees to maintain lush benefits for the core employees, but those core employees can easily end up thrown under the bus because accusation is guilt. Uniformity of political ideology is the zenith of a just world.

Celebrate diversity in all aspects of life – except thoughtTM.

Free speech is now considered violence. Free speech has real cost. So if you disagree with someone, “people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face” – former Google diversity expert Yonatan Zunger.

Anything but the facts!

Mob rule – with a splash of violence – for the win.

Social justice is the antithesis of justice.

It is the aspie guy getting fired for not understanding the full gender “spectrum.”

It is the repression of truth: “Truth equals virtue equals happiness. You cannot solve serious social problems by telling lies or punishing people who tell truth.”

Most meetings at Google are recorded. Anyone at Google can watch it. We’re trying to be really open about everything…except for this. They don’t want any paper trail for any of these things. They were telling us about a lot of these potentially illegal practices that they’ve been doing to try to increase diversity. Basically treating people differently based on what their race or gender are. – James Damore

The recursive feedback loops & reactionary filtering are so bad that some sites promoting socialism are now being dragged to the Google gulag.

In a set of guidelines issued to Google evaluators in March, elaborated in April by Google VP of Engineering Ben Gomes, the company instructed its search evaluators to flag pages returning’conspiracy theories’ or’upsetting’ content unless’the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.’ The changes to the search rankings of WSWS content are consistent with such a mechanism. Users of Google will be able to find the WSWS if they specifically include’World Socialist Web Site’ in their search request. But if their inquiry simply includes term such as’Trotsky,”Trotskyism,”Marxism,”socialism’ or’inequality,’ they will not find the site.

Every website which has a following & challenges power is considered “fake news” or “conspiracy theory” until many years later, when many of the prior “nutjob conspiracies” turn out to be accurate representations of reality.

Under its new so-called anti-fake-news program, Google algorithms have in the past few months moved socialist, anti-war, and progressive websites from previously prominent positions in Google searches to positions up to 50 search result pages from the first page, essentially removing them from the search results any searcher will see. Counterpunch, World Socialsit Website, Democracy Now, American Civil liberties Union, Wikileaks are just a few of the websites which have experienced severe reductions in their returns from Google searches.

In the meantime townhall meetings celebrating diversity will be canceled & differentiated voices will be marginalized to protect the mob from themselves.

What does the above say about tech monopolies wanting to alter the structure of society when their internal ideals are based on fundamental lies? They can’t hold an internal meeting addressing sacred cows because “ultimately the loudest voices on the fringes drive the perception and reaction” but why not let them distribute swarms of animals with bacteria & see what happens? Let’s make Earth a beta.

FANG

Monopoly platforms are only growing more dominant by the day.

Over the past three decades, the U.S. government has permitted corporate giants to take over an ever-increasing share of the economy. Monopoly-the ultimate enemy of free-market competition-now pervades every corner of American life … Economic power, in fact, is more concentrated than ever: According to a study published earlier this year, half of all publicly traded companies have disappeared over the past four decades.

And you don’t have to subscribe to deep state conspiracy theory in order to see the impacts.

The revenue, value & profit transfer is overt:

It is no coincidence that from 2012 to 2016, Amazon, Google and Facebook’s revenues increased by $ 137 billion and the remaining Fortune 497 revenues contracted by $ 97 billion.

Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook … are all aggressively investing in video content as bandwidth is getting cheaper & they need differentiated content to drive subscription revenues. If the big players are bidding competitively to have differentiated video content that puts a bid under some premium content, but for ad-supported content the relatively high CPMs on video content might fall sharply in the years to come.

From a partner perspective, if you only get a percent of revenue that transfers all the risk onto you, how is the new Facebook video feature going to be any better than being a YouTube partner? As video becomes more widespread, won’t that lower CPMs?

No need to guess:

One publisher said its Facebook-monetized videos had an average CPM of 15 cents. A second publisher, which calculated ad rates based on video views that lasted long enough to reach the ad break, said the average CPM for its mid-rolls is 75 cents. A third publisher made roughly $ 500 from more than 20 million total video views on that page in September.

That’s how monopolies work. Whatever is hot at the moment gets pitched as the future, but underneath the hood all compliments get commoditized:

as a result of this increased market power, the big superstar companies have been raising their prices and cutting their wages. This has lifted profits and boosted the stock market, but it has also held down real wages, diverted more of the nation’s income to business owners, and increased inequality. It has also held back productivity, since raising prices restricts economic output.

The future of the web is closed, proprietary silos that mirror what existed before the web:

If in five years I’m just watching NFL-endorsed ESPN clips through a syndication deal with a messaging app, and Vice is just an age-skewed Viacom with better audience data, and I’m looking up the same trivia on Genius instead of Wikipedia, and’publications’ are just content agencies that solve temporary optimization issues for much larger platforms, what will have been point of the last twenty years of creating things for the web?

They’ve all won their respective markets & are now converging:

We’ve been in the celebration phase all year as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Facebook take their place in the pantheon of classic American monopolists. These firms and a few others, it is now widely acknowledged, dominate everything. There is no day-part in which they do not dominate the battle for consumers’ attention. There is no business safe from their ambitions. There are no industries in which their influence and encroachment are not currently being felt.

The web shifts information-based value chains to universal distribution at zero marginal cost, which shifts most of the value extraction to the attention merchants.

The raw feed stock for these centralized platforms isn’t particularly profitable:

despite a user base near the size of Instagram’s, Tumblr never quite figured out how to make money at the level Facebook has led managers and shareholders to expect … running a platform for culture creation is, increasingly, a charity operation undertaken by larger companies. Servers are expensive, and advertisers would rather just throw money at Facebook than take a chance

Those resting in the shadows of the giants will keep getting crushed: “They let big tech crawl, parse, and resell their IP, catalyzing an extraordinary transfer in wealth from the creators to the platforms.”

They’ll take the influence & margins, but not the responsibility normally associated with such a position:

“Facebook has embraced the healthy gross margins and influence of a media firm but is allergic to the responsibilities of a media firm,” Mr. Galloway says. … For Facebook, a company with more than $ 14 billion in free cash flow in the past year, to say it is adding 250 people to its safety and security efforts is’pissing in the ocean,’ Mr. Galloway says.’They could add 25,000 people, spend $ 1 billion on AI technologies to help those 25,000 employees sort, filter and ID questionable content and advertisers, and their cash flow would decline 10% to 20%.’

It’s why there’s a management shake up at Pandora, Soundcloud laid off 40% of their staff & Vimeo canceled their subscription service before it was even launched.

With the winners of the web determined, it’s time to start locking down the ecosystem with DRM:

Practically speaking, bypassing DRM isn’t hard (Google’s version of DRM was broken for six years before anyone noticed), but that doesn’t matter. Even low-quality DRM gets the copyright owner the extremely profitable right to stop their customers and competitors from using their products except in the ways that the rightsholder specifies. … for a browser to support EME, it must also license a “Content Decryption Module” (CDM). Without a CDM, video just doesn’t work. All the big incumbents advocating for DRM have licenses for CDMs, but new entrants to the market will struggle to get these CDMs, and in order to get them, they have to make promises to restrict otherwise legal activities … We’re dismayed to see the W3C literally overrule the concerns of its public interest members, security experts, accessibility members and innovative startup members, putting the institution’s thumb on the scales for the large incumbents that dominate the web, ensuring that dominance lasts forever.

After years of loosey goosey privacy violations by the tech monopoly players, draconian privacy laws will block new competitors:

More significantly, the GDPR extends the concept of’personal data’ to bring it into line with the online world. The regulation stipulates, for example, that an online identifier, such as a device’s IP address, can now be personal data. So next year, a wide range of identifiers that had hitherto lain outside the law will be regarded as personal data, reflecting changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people. … Facebook and Google should be OK, because they claim to have the’consent’ of their users. But the data-broking crowd do not have that consent.

GDRP is less than 8 months away.

If you can’t get the fat thumb accidental mobile ad clicks then you need to convert formerly free services to a paid version or sell video ads. Yahoo! shut down most their verticals, was acquired by Verizon, and is now part of Oath. Oath’s strategy is so sound Katie Couric left:

Oath’s video unit, however, had begun doubling down on the type of highly shareable,’snackable’ bites that people gobble up on their smartphones and Facebook feeds. … . What frustrates her like nothing else, two people close to Couric told me, is when she encounters fans and they ask her what she’s up to these days.

When content is atomized into the smallest bits & recycling is encouraged only the central network operators without editorial content costs win.

Even Reddit is pushing crappy autoplay videos for the sake of ads. There’s no chance of it working for them, but they’ll still try, as Google & Facebook have enviable market caps.

Mic laid off journalists and is pivoting to video.

It doesn’t work, but why not try.

The TV networks which focused on the sort of junk short-form video content that is failing online are also seeing low ratings.

Probably just a coincidence.

Some of the “innovative” upstart web publishers are recycling TV ads as video content to run pre-roll ads on. An ad inside an ad.

Some suggest the repackaging and reposting of ads highlights the’pivot to video’ mentality many publishers now demonstrate. The push to churn out video content to feed platforms and to attract potentially lucrative video advertising is increasingly viewed as a potential solution to an increasingly challenging business model problem.

Publishers might also get paid a commission on any sales they help drive by including affiliate links alongside the videos. If these links drive users to purchase the products, then the publisher gets a cut.

Is there any chance recycling low quality infomercial styled ads as placeholder auto-play video content to run prerolls on is a sustainable business practice?

If that counts as strategic thinking in online publishing, count me as a short.

For years whenever the Adobe Flash plugin for Firefox had a security update users who hit the page got a negative option install of Google Chrome as their default web browser. And Google constantly markets Chrome across their properties:

Google is aggressively using its monopoly position in Internet services such as Google Mail, Google Calendar and YouTube to advertise Chrome. Browsers are a mature product and its hard to compete in a mature market if your main competitor has access to billions of dollars worth of free marketing.

It only takes a single yes on any of those billions of ad impressions (or an accidental opt in on the negative option bundling with security updates) for the default web browser to change permanently.

There’s no way Mozilla can compete with Google on economics trying to buy back an audience.

Mozilla is willing to buy influence, too – particularly in mobile, where it’s so weak. One option is paying partners to distribute Firefox on their phones.’We’re going to have to put money toward it,’ Dixon says, but she expects it’ll pay off when Mozilla can share revenue from the resulting search traffic.

They have no chance of winning when they focus on wedge issues like fake news. Much like their mobile operating system, it is a distraction. And the core economics of paying for distribution won’t work either. How can Mozilla get a slice of an advertiser’s ad budget through Yahoo through Bing & compete against Google’s bid?

Google is willing to enter uneconomic deals to keep their monopoly power. Look no further than the $ 1 billion investment they made in AOL which they quickly wrote down by $ 726 million.

Google pays Apple $ 3 billion PER YEAR to be the default search provider in Safari. Verizon acquired Yahoo! for $ 4.48 billion. There’s no chance of Yahoo! outbidding Google for default Safari search placement & if Apple liked the idea they would have bought Yahoo!. It is hard to want to take a big risk & spend billions on something that might not back out when you get paid billions to not take any risk.

Even Microsoft would be taking a big risk in making a competitive bid for the Apple search placement. Microsoft recently disclosed “Search advertising revenue increased $ 124 million or 8%.” If $ 124 million is 8% then their quarterly search ad revenue is $ 1.674 billion. To outbid Google they would have to bid over half their total search revenues.

Regulatory Capture

“I have a foreboding of an America in which my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of america is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.” – Carl Sagan, The Demon-haunted World, 1996


The monopoly platforms have remained unscathed by government regulatory efforts in the U.S. Google got so good at lobbying they made Goldman Sachs look like amateurs. It never hurts to place your lawyers in the body that (should) regulate you: “Wright left the FTC in August 2015, returning to George Mason. Just five months later, he had a new position as’of counsel’ at Wilson Sonsini, Google’s primary outside law firm.”

Remember how Google engineers repeatedly announced how people who bought or sold links without clear machine & human readable disclosure are scum? One way to take .edu link building to the next level is to sponsor academic research without disclosure:

Some researchers share their papers before publication and let Google give suggestions, according to thousands of pages of emails obtained by the Journal in public-records requests of more than a dozen university professors. The professors don’t always reveal Google’s backing in their research, and few disclosed the financial ties in subsequent articles on the same or similar topics, the Journal found. … Google officials in Washington compiled wish lists of academic papers that included working titles, abstracts and budgets for each proposed paper-then they searched for willing authors, according to a former employee and a former Google lobbyist. … Mr. Sokol, though, had extensive financial ties to Google, according to his emails obtained by the Journal. He was a part-time attorney at the Silicon Valley law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which has Google as a client. The 2016 paper’s co-author was also a partner at the law firm, which didn’t respond to requests for comment.

As bad as that is, Google has non profit think tanks fire ENTIRE TEAMS if they suggest regulatory action against Google is just:

“We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points,’ Ms. Slaughter wrote in an email to Mr. Lynn, urging him to’just THINK about how you are imperiling funding for others.’

“What happened has little to do with New America, and everything to do with Google and monopoly power. One reason that American governance is dysfunctional is because of the capture of much academic and NGO infrastructure by power. That this happened obviously and clumsily at one think tank is not the point. The point is that this is a *system* of power. I have deep respect for the scholars at New America and the work done there. The point here is how *Google* and monopolies operate. I’ll make one other political point about monopoly power. Democracies all over the world are seeing an upsurge in anger. Why? Scholars have tended to look at political differences, like does a different social safety net have an impact on populism. But it makes more sense to understand what countries have in common. Multi-nationals stretch over… multiple nations. So if you think, we do, that corporations are part of our political system, then populism everywhere monopolies operate isn’t a surprise. Because these are the same monopolies. Google is part of the American political system, and the European one, and so on and so forth.” – Matt Stoller

Any dissent of Google is verboten:

in recent years, Google has become greedy about owning not just search capacities, video and maps, but also the shape of public discourse. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, Google has recruited and cultivated law professors who support its views. And as the New York Times recently reported, it has become invested in building curriculum for our public schools, and has created political strategy to get schools to adopt its products. This year, Google is on track to spend more money than any company in America on lobbying.

“I just got off the phone with Eric Schmidt and he is pulling all of his money.” – Anne-Marie Slaughter

They not only directly control the think tanks, but also state who & what the think tanks may fund:

Google’s director of policy communications, Bob Boorstin, emailed the Rose Foundation (a major funder of Consumer Watchdog) complaining about Consumer Watchdog and asking the charity to consider “whether there might be better groups in which to place your trust and resources.”

They can also, you know, blackball your media organization or outright penalize you. The more aggressive you are with monetization the more leverage they have to arbitrarily hit you if you don’t play ball.

Six years ago, I was pressured to unpublish a critical piece about Google’s monopolistic practices after the company got upset about it. In my case, the post stayed unpublished. I was working for Forbes at the time, and was new to my job.

Google never challenged the accuracy of the reporting. Instead, a Google spokesperson told me that I needed to unpublish the story because the meeting had been confidential, and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure agreement between Google and Forbes. (I had signed no such agreement, hadn’t been told the meeting was confidential, and had identified myself as a journalist.)

Sometimes the threat is explicit:

“You’re already asking very difficult questions to Mr. Juncker,’ the YouTube employee said before Birbes’ interview in an exchange she captured on video.’You’re talking about corporate lobbies. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of YouTube and the European Commission… Well, except if you don’t care about having a long career on YouTube.’

Concentrated source of power manipulates the media. Not new, rather typical. Which is precisely why monopolies should be broken up once they have a track record of abusing the public trust:

As more and more of the economy become sown up by monopolistic corporations, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for entrepreneurship. … By design, the private business corporation is geared to pursue its own interests. It’s our job as citizens to structure a political economy that keeps corporations small enough to ensure that their actions never threaten the people’s sovereignty over our nation.

How much control can one entity get before it becomes excessive?

Google controls upwards of 80 percent of global search-and the capital to either acquire or crush any newcomers. They are bringing us a hardly gilded age of prosperity but depressed competition, economic stagnation, and, increasingly, a chilling desire to control the national conversation.

Google thinks their business is too complex to exist in a single organization. They restructured to minimize their legal risks:

The switch is partly related to Google’s transformation from a listed public company into a business owned by a holding company. The change helps keep potential challenges in one business from spreading to another, according to Dana Hobart, a litigator with the Buchalter law firm in Los Angeles.

Isn’t that an admission they should be broken up?

Early Xoogler Doug Edwards wrote: “[Larry Page] wondered how Google could become like a better version of the RIAA – not just a mediator of digital music licensing – but a marketplace for fair distribution of all forms of digitized content.”

A better version of the RIAA as a north star sure seems like an accurate analogy:

In an explosive new allegation, a renowned architect has accused Google of racketeering, saying in a lawsuit the company has a pattern of stealing trade secrets from people it first invites to collaborate. …’It’s cheaper to steal than to develop your own technology,’ Buether said.’You can take it from somebody else and you have a virtually unlimited budget to fight these things in court.’ …’It’s even worse than just using the proprietary information – they actually then claim ownership through patent applications,’ Buether said.

The following slide expresses Google’s views on premium content

No surprise the Content Creators Coalition called for Congressional Investigation into Google’s Distortion of Public Policy Debates:

Google’s efforts to monopolize civil society in support of the company’s balance-sheet-driven agenda is as dangerous as it is wrong. For years, we have watched as Google used its monopoly powers to hurt artists and music creators while profiting off stolen content. For years, we have warned about Google’s actions that stifle the views of anyone who disagrees with its business practices, while claiming to champion free speech.

In a world where monopolies are built with mission statements like’to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ it makes sense to seal court documents, bury regulatory findings, or else the slogan doesn’t fit as the consumer harm was obvious.

“The 160-page critique, which was supposed to remain private but was inadvertently disclosed in an open-records request, concluded that Google’s ‘conduct has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers.’ ” But Google was never penalized, because the political appointees overrode the staff recommendation, an action rarely taken by the FTC. The Journal pointed out that Google, whose executives donated more money to the Obama campaign than any company, had held scores of meetings at the White House between the time the staff filed its report and the ultimate decision to drop the enforcement action.

Some scrappy (& perhaps masochistic players) have been fighting the monopoly game for over a decade:

June 2006: Foundem’s Google search penalty begins. Foundem starts an arduous campaign to have the penalty lifted.
September 2007: Foundem is’whitelisted’ for AdWords (i.e. Google manually grants Foundem immunity from its AdWords penalty).
December 2009: Foundem is’whitelisted’ for Google natural search (i.e. Google manually grants Foundem immunity from its search penalty)

For many years Google has “manipulated search results to favor its own comparison-shopping service. … Google both demotes competitors’ offerings in search rankings and artificially inserts its own service in a box above all other search results, regardless of their relevance.”

After losing for over a decade, on the 27th of June a win was finally delivered when the European Commission issued a manual action to negate the spam, when they fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.” – Margrethe Vestager

That fine looks to be the first of multiple record-breaking fines as “Sources expect the Android fine to be substantially higher than the shopping penalty.”

That fine was well deserved:

Quoting internal Google documents and emails, the report shows that the company created a list of rival comparison shopping sites that it would artificially lower in the general search results, even though tests showed that Google users’liked the quality of the [rival] sites’ and gave negative feedback on the proposed changes. Google reworked its search algorithm at least four times, the documents show, and altered its established rating criteria before the proposed changes received’slightly positive’ user feedback. … Google’s displayed prices for everyday products, such as watches, anti-wrinkle cream and wireless routers, were roughly 50 percent higher – sometimes more – than those on rival sites. A subsequent study by a consumer protection group found similar results. A study by the Financial Times also documented the higher prices.

Nonetheless, Google is appealing it. The ease with which Google quickly crafted a response was telling.

The competitors who were slaughtered by monopolistic bundling won’t recover‘The damage has been done. The industry is on its knees, and this is not going to put it back,’ said Mr. Stables, who has decided to participate in Google’s new auctions despite misgivings.’I'm sort of shocked that they’ve come out with this,’ he added.

Google claims they’ll be running their EU shopping ads as a separate company with positive profit margins & that advertisers won’t be bidding against themselves if they are on multiple platforms. Anyone who believes that stuff hasn’t dropped a few thousand dollars on a Flash-only website after AdWords turned on Enhanced campaigns against their wishes – charging the advertisers dollars per click to send users to a blank page which would not load.

Hell may freeze over, causing the FTC to look into Google’s Android bundling similarly to how Microsoft’s OS bundling was looked at.

If hell doesn’t freeze over, it is likely because Google further ramped up their lobbying efforts, donating to political organizations they claim to be ideologically opposed to.

The Fight Against Rising (& Declining) Nationalism

As a global corporation above & beyond borders, Google has long been against nationalism. Eric Schmidt’s Hillary Clinton once wrote: “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”

Apparently Google flacks did not get that memo (or they got the new memo about Eric Schmidt’s Donald Trump), because they were quick to denounce the European Commission’s move as anti-American:

We are writing to express our deep concerns about the European Union’s aggressive and heavy-handed antitrust enforcement action against American companies. It has become increasingly clear that, rather than being grounded in a transparent legal framework, these various investigations and complaints are being driven by politics and protectionist policies that harm open-competition practices, consumers, and unfairly target American companies,.

The above nonsense was in spite of Yelp carrying a heavy load.

Yelp celebrated the victory: “Google has been found guilty of engaging in illegal conduct with the aim of promoting its vertical search services. Although the decision addresses comparison shopping services, the European Commission has also recognized that the same illegal behavior applies to other verticals, including local search.”

The EU is also looking for an expert to monitor Google’s algorithm. It certainly isn’t hard to find areas where the home team wins.

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