Tag: IBM

IBM works on its AI ABBs

Biggish Blue has teamed up with a Swiss engineering company in a cunning plan to ramp up its presence in digital technology and the internet of things.

In a joint statement, ABB said it would combine its digital offering, which gathers information from machinery, with IBM’s expertise in artificial intelligence featured in its Watson data analytics software. The two companies will jointly develop and sell new products.

ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement that the glorious alliance was a powerful combination which marks the next level of industrial technology, moving beyond current connected systems that simply gather data, to industrial operations and machines that use data to sense, analyse, optimise and take actions that drive greater uptime, speed and yield for industrial customers.

Instead of manual machinery inspections, ABB and IBM intend to use Watson’s artificial intelligence to help find defects via real-time images collected by an ABB system, and then analysed using IBM Watson.

ABB has identified digital technology as a growth driver. It now gets around 55 percent of sales from digitally enabled products.
It has previously signed a deal with Microsoft to roll out digital products for customers in the robotics, marine and ports, electric vehicles and renewable energy sectors.

IBM lets dog eat its home workers

Biggish Blue has been an enthusiastic supporter of its staff working from home, but in less than a year into her tenure as IBM’s chief marketing officer, Michelle Peluso has decided she does not like it one bit.

In a video message, Peluso explained the “only one recipe I know for success”. Its ingredients included great people, the right tools, a mission, analysis of results, and one more thing: “really creative and inspiring locations”.

She said that IBM had decided to “co-locate” the US marketing department, about 2,600 people, which meant that all teams would now work together, “shoulder to shoulder,” from one of six different locations — Atlanta, Raleigh, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, and New York.

Employees who worked primarily from home would be required to commute, and employees who worked remotely or from an office that was not on the list – or an office that was on the list, but different than the one to which their teams had been assigned – would be required to either move or look for another job.

Similar announcements had already been made in other departments, and more are expected. At IBM, which has embraced remote work for decades, a large proportion of employees work outside of central hubs.

Peluso trots out the same sort of stuff that managers have been saying about remote working for decades.

“When you are playing phone tag with someone is quite different than when you’re sitting next to someone and can pop up behind them and ask them a question,” Peluso says.

However most remote workers are not like that. Telephone tag does not happen if someone is working from home because there is only one number to a house and the person usually answers it. Telephone tag however happens a lot when someone is in a big office.

We also think it is unlikely that one of Peluso’s workers would just show up in her office if they want a chat.

IBM owns out of hours emails

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is furious that IBM has managed to score a patent on out of hours emails.

The EFF said it is bringing light to what it calls a “stupefyingly mundane” patent on e-mail technology which turns Biggish Blue into a spectacular troll.

For years IBM lawyers has argued with the US Patent and Trademark Office over a bizarre and alarming alternative history, in which IBM invented out of office e-mail—in 2010.

US Patent No. 9,547,842, “Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system” was filed in 2010 and granted about six weeks ago.

EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer described the case as the “Stupid Patent of the Month” blog post and cites a Microsoft publicity page that talks about quirky out of office e-mail culture dating back to the 1980s, when Microsoft marketed its Xenix e-mail system.

To be fair an IBM spokesperson said that “IBM has decided to dedicate the patent to the public”. The company notified USPTO today that it will forego its rights to the patent.

But the patent should never have been awarded.

IBM offers one feature that’s even arguably not decades old –  the ability to notify those writing to the out of office user some days before the set vacation dates begin.

It is a  feature, similar to “sending a postcard, not from a vacation, but to let someone know you will go on a vacation,” is a “trivial change to existing systems,” Nazer points out.

Nazer said that here were some major mistakes made during the examination process. The examiner never considered whether the software claims were eligible after the Supreme Court’s Alice v. CLS Bank decision, which came in 2014, and in Nazer’s view, the office “did an abysmal job” of looking at the prior art.

Nazer said the office “never considered any of the many, many, existing real-world systems that pre-dated IBM’s application”.

Needless to say, IBM is not one of those companies who likes the Alice judgement much.  It is lobbying Congress to roll back Alice and allow more types of software patents.

Rather than making trolls go away, it will mean that even more bizarre ones could get the nod by the Patent Office. After all IBM once applied to patent shorter meetings, it did not get anywhere with it, but it is the sort of thing it wants to be paid for.

Dubai and IBM working on Blockchain

blockchainThe government of Dubai and Biggish Blue are launching a scheme using blockchain computing technology to process financial transactions and keep track of goods being shipped.

The initiative will provide real-time information about the state of goods and the status of their shipment to Dubai’s customs and trade agencies and companies involved in the trade process, IBM said.

Dubai registered $176 billion of non-oil trade in the first half of 2016, has cemented itself as one of the largest re-export centres for goods flowing between Asia and the Middle East and Africa.

IBM said it was also working with companies including du, a United Arab Emirates-based telecommunications firm, Dubai’s largest bank Emirates NBD, Spanish lender Banco Santander, Dubai-based logistics firm Aramex and an unidentified airline on the scheme.

Blockchain works as an electronic transaction processing and record keeping system that allows all parties to track information through a secure network, with no need for third-party verification.

Proponents think it could make transactions faster and safer, and have a wide range of applications.

The Dubai deal follows a plan announced in February 2016 by the government there to become a f blockchain centre.

IBM said the two banks taking part in the project would use blockchain for trade finance transactions involved in the scheme.

IBM suits revolt against CEO’s Trump endorsement

suitsCEO Ginni Rometty might be enthusiastic of her love of Donald Trump and his plans to build a national Muslim registry, but her staff are getting rather hacked off with her.

The IBM suits are revolting against their CEO’s pro-Trumpery in a very public way and telling her not to include IBM in Trump’s plans.

In November, Rometty wrote Trump directly, congratulating him on his electoral victory and detailing various services the company could sell his administration. The letter was published on an internal IBM blog along with a personal note from Rometty to her enormous global staff.

“As IBMers, we believe that innovation improves the human condition. … We support, tolerance, diversity, the development of expertise, and the open exchange of ideas,” she wrote in the context of lending material support to a man who won the election by rejecting all of those values.

However IBM employees were horrified and some of them are denouncing her letter and asserting their “right to refuse participation in any US government contracts that violate constitutionally protected civil liberties.”

The IBMPetition.org effort has been spearheaded in part by IBM cybersecurity engineer Daniel Hanley, who  started organizing with his coworkers after reading Rometty’s letter.

He has told the press that he was shocked because IBM has purported to espouse diversity and inclusion, and yet Rometty in an unqualified way was reaching out to an admin whose electoral success was based on racist programmes.

The petition now has 51 signees, which is a tiny fraction of the company’s enormous global staff, but has only circulated only privately. The full IBMPetition.org letter can reads: :

“We are disappointed that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s open letter to President-elect Donald Trump does not affirm IBMers’ core values of diversity, inclusiveness, and ethical business conduct. For our mutual aid and protection, we call on IBM to expand diversity recruitment programs, and we assert our right to refuse participation in any U.S. government contracts that violate constitutionally protected civil liberties. We call on IBM to demonstrate commitment to our Business Conduct Guidelines and to prevent perceived influence peddling through Trump affiliated businesses.”
“In response to your open letter to Mr. Trump [1], we are disappointed that you did not reaffirm the core values which differentiate both IBM as a company and us collectively as IBMers. While we understand your willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with the president-elect, we believe our shared culture and values remain not only constant, but also central to our transformation underpinned by cloud and cognitive initiatives. As you know, more than 400,000 IBMers around the world work in environments where diversity — including diversity of thought — is the norm. IBM values this because our diversity helps create innovation that enhances every aspect of our business.

“Your internal memo to employees, advocating diversity and the open exchange of ideas, echoes IBM President Tom Watson’s Policy Letter #4 [2]. Watson’s letter reaffirmed IBM’s moral leadership by refusing to discriminate on the basis of race, resisting the prevailing attitudes of governors in the southern United States. In this instance, Watson sacrificed short-term business interests in order to be on the right side of history, something IBM takes pride in today.”

The letter goes on to say that taking a conservative approach has grave implications.

“Our own founder’s experience and the rest of history teach us that accommodating those who unleash forces of aggressive nationalism, bigotry, racism, fear, and exclusion inevitably yields devastating outcomes for millions of innocents.”

The IBM petition is perhaps the first of its kind, a rare instance of tech employees directly confronting their management in an industry where organised labor is unheard of.

Already one IBM employee Elizabeth Wood has publicly quit the company shortly after reading Rometty’s letter. Apparently she provided advice and helped with drafts of the IBMPetition.org letter.

 

Trump and Silicon Valley try to bury the hatchet

Donald-Trump-funnyDonald “Prince of Orange” Trump met with Silicon Valley’s top executives attempted to bury the hatchet and to smoke a peace pipe.

The meeting, in Trump Towers, focused chiefly on economic problems, including job creation, lowering taxes and trade dynamics with China, while largely avoiding the many disagreements the tech industry has with Trump on matters ranging from immigration to digital privacy.

For some reason, three of Trump’s kids sat in on the meeting. We guess it is because they know a little more than their dad about tech. Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, sat at the head of a large rectangular table as the meeting began in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower.

Of course there is a small problem of conflict of interest because Trump’s kids are going to be running his business while he is being president.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was also there as was  Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’sSheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, Alphabet Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Missing was Twitter, which Trump claimed was too small to be at the table and it had nothing to do with the personal spat that Trump was having with Twitter.

Cook and Musk joined Trump for separate meetings after the other technology executives leave, according to a spokesman for Trump’s transition team.

Bezos said in a statement the meeting was “very productive” and that he “shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech – agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing -everywhere.”

Silicon Valley got on well with  President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Trump bashed the industry during the election campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.

Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC.

 

Businesses mostly pay up on ransomware extortion

KraysAn IBM Security report reveals that 70 percent of businesses will pay out if they are hit by Ransomware pay attackers, but there is hope in sight, as IBM’s Resilient Incident Response Platform adds a new Dynamic Playbook to help organisations respond to attacks.

According to a new security study, Biggish Blue is reporting that 70 percent of businesses impacted by ransomware end up paying the ransom.

The 23-page IBM Security study surveyed 600 business leaders and 1,021 consumers in the US, and 46 percent of business respondents reported that they had experienced ransomware in their organisations. Of the 46 percent that have been impacted by ransomware, 70 percent admitted that their organisation paid the ransom.

The amount paid to ransomware attackers varies, but of those business respondents that paid a ransom, 20 percent paid over $40,000, 25 percent paid between $20,000 and $40,000 and 11 percent paid between $10,00 to $20,000.

IBM’s study found that the propensity to pay a ransom varies depending on whether or not the victim is a parent. 55 percent of consumers that identified themselves as being parents said they would pay a ransom to recover access to photos that had been encrypted, versus only 39 percent for consumers that don’t have children.

IBM might be interested in attracting attention to the issue because it has a product it thinks can protect businesses from Ransomware attacks.  IBM’s Resilient Incident Response Platform (IRP) is being enhanced with a new Dynamic Playbook for ransomware.

Ted Julian, Vice President of Product Management and Co-Founder at Resilient, an IBM Company, explained that the basic idea behind the Dynamic Playbooks is to help provide organizations with an automated workflow or ‘playbook’ for how to deal with a particular security incident.

The Resilient platform also enables organisations to run simulations to practice responses to potential attacks. Being prepared and having a plan for how to deal with security incidents is a good way for organisations to help control both the costs and the risks of a potential attack.

“Part of the value is giving organizations a platform to practice incident response, get educated and in doing so, bring order to what would otherwise be a very chaotic process,” Julian said.

IBM promises Trump that it will hire US workers

Great-Depression-Unemployment-Line-Biggish Blue hopes to get on side with Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump by pledging to hire 25,000 workers in the US.

IBM Chief Executive Ginni Rometty make the pledge as she and other technology executives prepared to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump today.

Writing in USA Today, Rometty said that IBM had thousands of open positions and wanted to hire about 25,000 professionals in the next four years in the United States.

However Biggish Blue has not indicated how that hiring might be offset by staff reductions or disclose how many people IBM employs in the United States.

In fact, the company has made it clear that it will end 2016 with “Our US.workforce about the same size as it was at the beginning of the year. By 2020, we expect it to be larger than it is today,” Pratt said.

Biggish Blue had 378,000 employees at the end of 2015, according to the company’s annual report so 25,000 might not be the great increase that the pro-Trump press has been trumping.

Still it must be some sort of improvement. IBM has reported that the active number of participants in its 401(k)-pension plan fell to 84,350 last year from 110,876 in 2010.

However, Rometty is a big fan of Trump. She is one of more than a dozen US executives serving on an advisory council that Trump has formed to consult him on job creation.

Biggish Blue admits big blue down-under

IBM storage circa 1968IBM has confirmed it will compensate the Australian government for a “malicious” cyber-attack that shut down the national census, but has claimed that two ISPs were also responsible for the security lapse.

For five years IBM was the lead contractor for the five-yearly household survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). However the project went off-line on census day after four distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

The breach put a spanner in the works of government plans to trial online elections on the basis of its privacy street cred.

IBM was helping a police investigation but declined to say who was behind the attack.IBM claims that the attacks were launched through a router in Singapore and blamed Australian ISP Vocus Communications, a subcontractor of Nextgen Networks, for failing to shut it down.

In a written submission to the inquiry, IBM said its preferred anti-DDoS measure, which it calls “Island Australia”, involves “geoblocking”, or getting the company’s ISPs to shut down offshore traffic coming into the country.

In a written submission to the inquiry, Nextgen said IBM told it about “Island Australia” six days before the census website went live in July, and that IBM declared a test of the strategy four days before the census a success.

It said Nextgen followed IBM’s instructions, but noted that IBM rejected Nextgen’s offer of additional anti-DDoS detection measures.

Vocus said in a submission that it told Nextgen the week before the census that it “did not provide geoblocking” and that “Vocus was in fact requested to disable its DDoS protection product covering the e-Census IP space”.

 

IBM, Google and seven others gang up on Intel’s datacentres

Piranha-3dBiggish Blue, Google and seven others have linked up to give Intel a good kicking in the datacentres.

The gang has come up with an open specification that can boost datacentre server performance by up to ten times.  Dubbed the Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI), this is an open forum to provide a high bandwidth, low latency open interface design specification.

The open interface will help corporate and cloud data centres to speed up big data, machine learning, analytics and other emerging workloads.

The consortium plans to make the OpenCAPI specification available to the public before the end of the year and expects servers and related products based on the new standard in the second half of 2017, it said in a statement.

Chipzilla is not signing up to the forum, but them it has stayed away from other open standards  and technology groups such as CCIX and Gen-Z.  It prefers to keep all its technology to itself.

However Doug Balog, general manager for IBM Power, said that with all the AI, machine learning and advanced analytics kicking around,  datacentres can no longer rely on one company alone to drive innovation.