This Week: May 9, 2018

The New Taylorism: Brain-Scanning:

Chinese companies and government agencies are now using on-the-job brain-scanning technology to improve employee performance and safety. The technology raises serious privacy and civil rights issues, however.

“It has significantly reduced the number of mistakes made by our workers,” Zhao said, because of “improved understanding” between the employees and company.

Yes, “improved understanding” is one way to describe it.


Ada and Charles and the First Computer:

A few years ago, computer scientist Stephen Wolfram got curious about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage and wanted to unlock the mystery of their contributions and insights to computer science. In this somewhat long piece, he details their story with great detective work and an obvious admiration.

Today, with computers and software all around us, the notion of universal computation seems almost obvious: of course we can use software to compute anything we want. But in the abstract, things might not be that way. And I think one can fairly say that Ada Lovelace was the first person ever to glimpse with any clarity what has become a defining phenomenon of our technology and even our civilization: the notion of universal computation.


Corporate AI and the Data Problem:

McKinsey analyzed various markets to see which ones held the greatest potential for Artificial Intelligence. I found the methodology behind the analysis a bit unclear, but I am sharing the summary report because it has some interesting observations about just how big an obstacle access to large-scale datasets will be for most companies.


Accounting for Cloud Services:

In the wonky territory of accounting, The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is trying to determine whether cloud computing services should be treated as an expensed item or a capital investment. This is important stuff, especially given that many, if not most, machine learning services will be cloud-hosted.

At the October 12, 2017, EITF meeting, discussions were leaning toward amending GAAP to allow businesses to capitalize more costs associated with implementing cloud systems. By capitalizing the costs, businesses will be able to recognize them as a long-term asset and amortize them over the life of the software contract instead of recognizing a large expense at the contract’s outset. 




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