Skimming the Week: Apple digs its feet in, Yahoo shuffles, Microsoft recoils

|March 26, 2016 0
Image courtesy of hin255 at freedigitalphotos
What a week it has been with twists in the FBI plot and changes in a chatbot script along with new chairs spinning in Yahoo boardrooms

THE last few days have been all about some marquee players in tech industry, albeit with new curveballs.

Eyes and ears stay glued on the precedent-defining Apple vs. FBI battle but new loopholes around third-party vulnerability discovery could actually change a lot on the fight steering it in a new direction from here.

The debate is soon moving from privacy vs. security investigations to zero day vulnerabilities and their timing as well as scope of exposure.

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Watch that new page out but as that happens you may share a sigh for Tay.

Tay who?

Tay, the chat bot, the big AI and Machine Learning experiment that turned a tad skewed when Microsoft had to pull him back inside the curtains.

Wise and quick-footed move as the bot could have done more damage than good going by the way it was being fiddled the wrong way by Internet bullies and trolls.

The idea was to move on with a research on conversational understanding, empowering the bot with linguistic skill accentuation, personalization and self-learning on social media. But initial days on Twitter and platforms like GroupMe and Kik did not last as long as expected.

Racist, sexist and hostile tweets from the bot soon alerted the company that among the good things, it was possibly picking the wrong things too on the linguistic parts.Research head Peter Lee posted in a blog about being deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets that the experimental chat bot made.

Tay is out for a while and the same fears loom large for top Yahoo honchos too. An activist hedge fund that has heightened its Yahoo holdings is opening a proxy battle with Yahoo! Inc., and if it gets the kind of control it is chasing then it may nominate a good number of directors to replace all of the board’s current members.
Those in line of fire here include CEO Marissa Mayer too as the Activist Starboard Value LP repeats attacks about the board failing its shareholders.

The move can be more than a threat if some recent shake-offs by Starboard are anything to go by. Remember Yahoo abandoning Alibaba stake sale? Or the unusual Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc. merger? Yeah, Starboard’s doing.

The plot would unfold on many tales in the next few weeks only. Keep your book-marks around.

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