First things first
It was a slow Tuesday after a busy last week, but a few items still stuck out as pretty meaningful. Here they are:
- Pentagon signs $885 million artificial intelligence contract with Booz Allen (Wall Street Journal): It's unclear whether the Project Maven projects that Google recently stopped working on are within the scope of this contract, but it sure sounds like Booz Allen will be working on some similar things, at least. Beyond the huge deal size -- $885 million over 5 years -- the thing that struck me most is the actual range of stuff Booz Allen will be working on, from health care to battlefield intelligence. As I've said before, I understand the ideals of employees who are leery of working with the military, but there's more to it than just killing and armies aren't going away any time soon.
- SoftBank-owned ARM is said to agree to buy Treasure Data (Bloomberg): Reportedly for $600 million, no less! I don't exactly see how this is a natural move as part of Arm's IoT strategy, as the WSJ and at least one other outlet have suggested. Treasure Data began life in the SQL-on-Hadoop world -- and actually created the popular Fluentd open source log-management tool -- and currently seems to be pushing its customer-data analytics capabilites (although it does claim some IoT use cases, and the tech seems like a good fit for that size/speed of data). Also, the $600 million price tag would suggest Treasure is doing well financially, which makes me wonder what Arm would do with the existing business, because it is a far cry from chip design. Somebody, please explain to me what I'm missing.
- Despite pledging openness, companies rush to patent AI tech (WIRED): I would like to believe that companies such as Google and Facebook are filing wholly defensive patents because they're hoping to head off any ridiculous patent-troll lawsuits once the techniques they develop start getting real adoption externally. Heck, back in 2013 Google announced its Open Patent Non-Assertion pledge, where it essentially promised not to sue anyone using a handful of its open source patents, including MapReduce, which was the foundation of Apache Hadoop. And although Google's PatentShield offering, isn't as altruistic as I remembered, it's still a somewhat noble gesture. Patent law and technology have always had a strained relationship, but if patents will be issued, I think I'd prefer to see them in the hands of actual tech companies rather than patent trolls or non-practicing entities. That being said, there are plenty of tech companies -- including some household names -- that are a little more litigious, sometimes indirectly.