Obama Faces a Tough Decision in Syria

The Turks have made it pretty clear that their military incursion into northern Syria is not just to attack ISIS. They want just as much to weaken the kurds. Inevitably, that means a military clash with kurdish units. This is already happening.

This is a big issue for the US, as the kurds have been the most reliable ally of the US in the region. How far will the US allow this to go? That is a decision on President Obama’s desk.

clearly, the US cannot abandon the kurds now. But the US also does not want a direct military clash with NATO ally Turkey either. Is there a third way?

Stay tuned.

Vietnam at a Strategic Crossroads

China’s increased militarization of the South China Sea area is pressuring Vietnam to make strategic choices. From Forbes

Vietnam’s current strategy is to balance its relationships with all major powers. But that means it will be in a weak position as China becomes more assertive.

Vietnam could choose to ally with the US led coalition of Asian powers. This might have security benefits, but it would mean opening up Vietnam’s society as well.

Finally, Vietnam might opt to upgrade its own military capabilities to offset China. That would be expensive and may not work.

Which way will Vietnam go? Stay tuned.

Facebook Algorithms to the Rescue!

Facebook has decided that it does not need or want human intervention in determining what is “trending news”.  Why not? Because the humans who were intervening in these threads were accused of bias .So now, Facebook will automate the feed.

What will happen? We are likely to find two effects. Facebook is likely more than ever to deliver to you the opinions that you want to hear. In other words, confirm your bias. Nicht  gut! In addition, Facebook is likely to lose its historical memory of why trends start and why they may or may not have relative value. Again, Nicht gut!

Al Wenger thinks we should do better. I agree. But like Al, I am pessimistic that Facebook is up to this particular challenge.

Global Income Distribution Trends

Everyone knows that inequality within the developed world has been increasing. But what about income distribution overall? How does that look? Fred Wilson zeroes in on that question in his post about the so called “Elephant Chart”.

The bottom line is that farming out work to the developed world has had a dramatic effect in raising incomes there while the developed world middle class has stagnated And what’s next?  The odds are that work will be farmed out to even poorer regions — if instability from income inequality in the west does not halt further globalization.

Interesting trend lines.

Your Own Personal jarvis?

If you think about it, the evolution of AI can be reduced to several trends.

One trend is the evolution of data sets. These data sets are growing  very quickly. as our transactions become more automated.  So when I purchased my air travel ticket to Milwaukee, my data was shared between my computer and that of the airline.  I don’t need a physical ticket any more. Nor do I need to go to a travel agent. Nor do I need cash. Pretty soon, I may not need a passport.  The data sets that enable me to do the travel will be autonomously available.

The second trend is in  connections between data sets. In the above example, Trip Advisor as triggered by my email exchange  with the airline which generated an email to me asking if I would like to know what to do when I get there.  If  I click on an event link, I can create a new transaction and new data trail. I may trigger other types of links as well. Indeed, i probably do not even know what links I create.

The third trend is in the interface between me and data sets. For now, I still use either a keyboard or tap on a mobile device.  That is changing, and is likely to be the next big noticeable change. Pretty soon; I will get Jarvis. An autonomous  talking interface. We already have rudimentary examples with Siri, Alexa, etc. The focus these days is on upgrading these voice interfaces.

This quote form TC lays it out

There was once a vision to put a personal computer in every home. Many companies today have a similar vision, which is putting a personal AI assistant for work in everyone’s hands. Think of it as a “Jarvis for Work” of sorts, except Jarvis will have cousins that each specialize in their own, unique vertical.

In other words, my Jarvis is going to be obsessed with what I do, in order to help me complete the tasks that I want  done. The vision is that my personal Jarvis will learn how these tasks can be completed faster and better.  In learning this, my Jarvis will need more nuanced interactions with other Javis’s..

Here is the thing. We do not yet have the language for this type of interaction. It is evolving as we go. And that is exciting to watch.

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