Thursday, May 29, 2014

OpenStack 05/29/2014 (p.m.)

  • Haven't yet explored to see what's beneath the marketing hype. And I'm less than excited about the Skype with its NSA tendrils being the vehicle of audio translations of human languages. But given the progress in: [i] automated translations of human texts; [ii] audio screenreaders; and [iii] voice-to-text transcription, this is one we saw coming. Slap the three technologies together and wait until processing power catches up to what's needed to produce a marketable experience. After all, the StarTrek scriptwriters saw this coming too.   Ray Kurzweil, now at Google, should get a lot of the pioneer credit here. His revolutionary optical character recognition algorithms soon found themselves redeployed in text-to-speech synthesis and speech recognition technology. From Wikipedia: "Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer Kurzweil K250 capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition." Not bad for a guy the same age as my younger brother. But Microsoft's announcement here may be more vaporware than hardware in production and lines of executable code. Microsoft has a long history of vaporware announcements to persuade potential customers to hold off on riding with the competition.  And the Softies undoubtedly know that Google's human language text translation capabilities are way out in front and that the voice to text and text to speech API methods have already found a comfortable home in Android and Chromebook. What does Microsoft have that's ready to ship if anything? I'll check it out tomorrow. 

    Tags: audio-translations, Microsoft, Skype, Kurzweil

    • "Today at the first annual Code Conference, Microsoft demonstrated its new real-time translation in Skype publicly for the first time. Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft's VP of Skype and Lync, compares the technology to Star Trek's Universal Translator. During the demonstration, Pall converses in English with a coworker in Germany who is speaking German. 'Skype Translator results from decades of work by the industry, years of work by our researchers, and now is being developed jointly by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. The demo showed near real-time audio translation from English to German and vice versa, combining Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, and neural network-based speech recognition.'"
  • Let's also not forget that what is now named "Verizon" used to be named Bell Atlantic, one of the seven Baby Bells that were spun off by AT&T by government order during antitrust proceedings.  In other words, this is one of the companies rate-payers financed through a heavily-regulated analog telephony absolute monopoly. But Verizon wants to spread its wings and escape the chains of regulation as a telecommunications carrier. While having its cake and eating it to, according to this article. The FCC has poised itself through a proposed rule with the flexibility to postpone a decision on net neutrality.  AT&T famously was allowed to keep its R&D arm while being freed of the expense of upgrading the U.S. telephony network from analog to digital and from copper wire to fibre optic.  And pay for those Baby Bells to make that transition we did. I remember monthly bills for a two person office running as high as $1,100 a month for calls all carried from Baby Bell to AT&T and back to another Baby Bell. All at state-regulated rates with FCC looking the other way. But now Verizon, Comcast (the originally munipally regulated cable television monopolies) and the few other "competing" survivors of that broadband rollout, having had their infrastructure paid for by the ratepayers, want to fly off and begin charging us at the other end of the pipe,via charges to content providers that will be passed on to us. Leading to the squeezing out of Mom and Pop internet businesses by the big content providers that can afford the charges and pass them on to us. This is looking more and more like another massive rip-off of the customers who already paid for that infrasture. Is that banksters I smell, privatizing a enormous public utility in the name of free markets?      

    Tags: net-neutrality, FCC, Verizon, banksters

    • Research for the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) has been released which details 'how Verizon deliberately moves back and forth between regulatory regimes, classifying its infrastructure either like a heavily regulated telephone network or a deregulated information service depending on its needs. The chicanery has allowed Verizon to raise telephone rates, all the while missing commitments for high-speed internet deployment' (PDF). In short, Verizon pushed for the government to give it common carrier privileges under Title II in order to build out its fiber network with tax-payer money. Result: increased service rates on telephone users to subsidize Verizon's 'infrastructure investment.' When it comes to regulations on Verizon's fiber network, however, Verizon has been pushing the government to classify its services as that of information only — i.e., beyond Title II. Verizon has made about $4.4 billion in additional revenue in New York City alone, 'money that's funneled directly from a Title II service to an array of services that currently lie beyond Title II's reach.' And it's all legal. An attorney at advocacy group Public Knowledge said it best: 'To expect that you can come in and use public infrastructure and funds to build a network and then be free of any regulation is absurd....When Verizon itself is describing these activities as a Title II common carrier, how can the FCC look at broadband internet and continue acting as though it's not a telecommunication network?'"

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

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