The Morning Download: Amazon Uses Natural Language Processi…


Good day, CIOs. For years, the sometimes inscrutable language used by medical doctors on prescriptions and health records has befuddled patients, administrators and, more recently, firms involved in the $3.2 trillion health industry’s decade-long shift to electronic records. But health care’s future is starting to become more legible. The Wall Street Journal’s Melanie Evans and Laura Stevens report that Amazon.com Inc. is now selling software that can read patient records and other clinical notes, analyze them and pluck out key data points.

Prescription for health-data analytics unfilled. The ability to analyze patient medical records, “an obvious application of the natural-language processing capabilities developed by tech companies,” historically has posed technical hurdles. Misspellings, abbreviations and doctors’ idiosyncratic descriptions create trouble for algorithms, according to Dr. Julia Adler-Milstein, director of the Center for Clinical Informatics and Improvement Research at the University of California, San Francisco.

Start making sense. Amazon officials said the company’s software developers trained the system using deep learning to recognize all the ways a doctor might record notes. “We’re able to completely, automatically look inside medical language and identify patient details … with incredibly high accuracy,” Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at Amazon Web Services, tells the WSJ. Users upload health records to Amazon’s cloud service, where they can run the text-processing software. Amazon’s algorithms analyze text for specific types of data and return the results in an organized format.

LATEST FROM CIO JOURNAL

Dish Network taps new tech leadership. Dish Network Corp. is tapping a 25-year information-technology veteran, as the satellite television operator looks to digital capabilities for renewed growth amid subscriber declines, CIO Journal’s Angus Loten reports. Atilla Tinic, a former senior vice president of IT at telecom provider CenturyLink Inc., is set to take over early next month as the Englewood, Colo.-based firm’s new chief information officer. He will report directly to Dish’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, John Swieringa.

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Backlog and revenue growth power Salesforce results. In the third quarter, Salesforce.com Inc. posted stronger sales and grew its backlog of business though higher operating expenses weighed on its bottom line, the Journal’s Patrick Thomas reports. Revenue rose 26% to $3.39 billion. Salesforce’s $6.5 billion acquisition of MuleSoft Inc., which closed in May, added $128 million in revenue in the latest quarter.

A tale of two companies. In London, parliament members from an international committee representing nine countries grilled Richard Allan, Facebook Inc.’s vice president of policy solutions, about how the social network shares personal data and how it has fought misinformation. Mr. Allan sat in a U.K. parliamentary committee room next to an empty chair with a nameplate for CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who declined to attend.

And on the continent … Consumer advocates from four European countries filed complaints against Alphabet Inc.’s saying the search-engine giant’s collection of location data on users violates “fundamental GDPR principles.” The WSJ’s Daniel Michaels and Stu Woo have more from Brussels and London.

Microsoft closes in on Apple. Microsoft Corp. briefly unseated longtime rival Apple Inc. on Tuesday as the world’s most valuable company, reflecting investors’ faith in its revival while the iPhone maker adjusts to slowing momentum for its most profitable product, say the WSJ’s Jay Greene and Tripp Mickle. Shares in Microsoft opened at $106.27, pushing its market capitalization to $815.75 billion, elbowing past Apple’s opening value of $813.88 billion.

Microsoft’s multi-factor goes down again. For the second time in a little over a week, the company’s multi-factor authentication service went down Tuesday. ZDNet reports that some users locked out of their Office 365 accounts took to Twitter to complain.

GDP misses open source contributions. Use of popular computer languages such as R, Python and JavaScript are sadly ignored by economic indicators like the GDP because, well, they are free. Quartz reports on researchers who attempted to quantify at least a share of the value created by these free languages by looking at code in the Github code respository. Using typical pay of programmers as a guide, they estimated the code to be worth over $3 billion.

Clouds in space. Amazon Web Services says it has created a new service making easier to upload data to satellites, Reuters reports. The capability includes 12 antenna ground stations to faciliate data transfers.

“You go … you.” Google’s Smart Compose technology, which uses AI to pen Gmail responses won’t suggest gender-based pronouns out of concern it might predict someone’s gender incorrectly, product leaders tell Reuters.

New Zealand bars Huawei from its 5G network over security fears. Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. has been blocked from supplying a 5G mobile network in New Zealand, the WSJ’s Dan Strumpf and Rachel Pannett report. New Zealand is a member with the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. Other members have taken hard stances on Huawei gear, but New Zealand has long shrugged off security concerns about the equipment and allowed it to be installed essentially without limits.

China clamps down on Didi after passenger deaths. Chinese authorities are tightening control over ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. following the killings of two female passengers, demanding new safety measures and raising the possibility of fines against company executives. The WSJ’s Yoko Kubota has more.

U.S. charges eight with online-ad fraud. The Justice Department Tuesday charged eight people, most of them in Eastern Europe, with operating two alleged advertising schemes involving scores of faked websites and infected computers across the world, the WSJ’s Rob Barry and Suzanne Vranica report. The operations, ongoing since 2014, have cost advertisers tens of millions of dollars.

Open office fail. Telephone booth-like privacy pods are emerging in open office plans as employees seek out quiet spaces to write copy, conduct important business video calls or just get some peace and quiet. As the Journal’s Sarah E. Needleman reports, the pods are now so popular that workers are willing to wait 30 minutes (or longer) to secure a bit of privacy.

EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW

President Trump threatened to cut subsidies for General Motors, including for electric cars, a day after the company said it was planning to cut up to 14,800 jobs in the U.S. and Canada. (WSJ)

Big American retailers are getting tough with Chinese suppliers as import tariffs start to hurt, cutting orders, negotiating down prices and demanding faster turnarounds.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday brought out about 5% fewer shoppers to stores and websites compared with last year, early data show, though the retail industry expects sales to advance nearly 4.8% for the season. (WSJ)

A measure of confidence among American households fell in November from an 18-year high, driven down by weaker expectations for the economy. (WSJ)

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