This week, I read a very interesting article by the “real” Robert X. Cringely entitled Big Data is the new Artificial Intelligence. It’s a bit long and technical, but I always enjoy Bob’s articles. In this one, he writes a bit about how the big AI push that started a couple of decades ago simply fizzled out, mostly for lack of available compute power, but the Next Big Thing is Big Data — and Big Data is going to basically take over our lives. Unfortunately, Big Data is going to be so complex that nobody will be able to understand how it works. Ah, yes, the Technological Singularity is coming!
So what does this have to do with Amazon?
Last night, Mrs. Amazopia found an article on Mashable about how Amazon is using Big Data. From that article:
One day, some drug dealer bought a particular digital scale — the AWS-100 — on the retail site, Amazon.com. And then another drug dealer bought the same scale. Then another. Then another.
Amazon’s data-tracking software watched what else these people purchased, and now, if you buy the AWS-100 scale, Amazon serves up a quickstart kit for selling drugs.
I’m guessing that the reporting of the events leading up to that situation are just a guess (the title is certainly sensationalized), but when I looked up the AWS-100 scale on Amazon, sure enough, I saw “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed” with a list of all sorts of drug paraphernalia (baggies of all types, airtight containers, herb grinders, gelatin capsules and loaders, drug detection kits, etc.). That is precisely the sort of thing that Robert X. Cringely was writing about. Big Data has gotten so big that Amazon can’t keep track of it, either.
Speaking of Big Data, Amazon is renaming its Cloud service to Amazon Cloud Drive. They’ve had offline storage for Kindle for several years now, but apparently they want to more directly compete with Google Drive. The feature that you will probably like most is the new ability to send any document (in just about any format) to the Amazon Cloud Drive, and access it on any of your Kindle devices, including the Kindle for PC cloud reader.
One more item of interest for today: The Amazon Phone. There have been persistent rumors about Amazon’s imminent entry into the smartphone business going around for a while now, but here is an article claiming to have “leaked” photos of a smartphone which, according to the author of the article, will hit the market in June of this year (other sources say September). It will be followed in a month or two by a lower-end smartphone with a reduced feature set and a very competitive price.
So if you are in the market for a new smartphone with a dazzling array of new features (such as easy integration with Amazon TV):
Kuo says the Amazon phone will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, a 4.7-inch display with a pixel density of between 300 and 320 ppi, a plastic housing, a 13-megapixel main camera supplied by Sony, secondary cameras supplied by Primax, and a battery sized between 2,000 and 2,400 mAh.
If you can (or have to) hang on to what you have until June (or September, depending on who got that right), then this could be very exciting news. I will definitely be watching for this myself.