Friday, July 07, 2017

Watson Takes Wimbledon

The Wimbledon tennis tournament, which starts Monday, will use IBM's artificial intelligence agent Watson to help direct fans to the most exciting matches, automatically generate video highlight reels and guide guests through the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
A voice-activated digital assistant called "Fred," named after British tennis great Fred Perry, will help those attending Wimbledon find their way around. Visitors can ask Fred for directions to the nearest strawberry stand, how to buy a Wimbledon towel or who is playing right now on Centre Court. Fred will also help visitors find other activities -- such as the children's play area -- they might want to check out while at the Club. The assistant is powered by Watson's natural language processing ability.
—Bloomberg, June 17

“Fred!  What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow afternoon?”
“Greetings!  Fred is a British interface to IBM’s massively successful Watson computer program which as you know won Jeopardy! in 2011.  Watson needs to know your location to answer your question.  Please tell Fred your location so Watson can answer your question.”
“Uh, Wimbledon?”
“Thank you.   Fred is happy to tell you that according to Watson, who once again wants me to remind you that he won Jeopardy! in 2011, Wimbledon is a district of London, 11 kilometers from the center of London with a population of 68,187—”
“No, Fred, I’m at Wimbledon and I just want to know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow afternoon.”
 “Okay thank you for clarifying.  Watson won Jeopardy! in 2011 against a couple of wankers, if you really want to know, so I don’t know why IBM is so chuffed about it.  But anyway, according to Watson, if you are at Wimbledon, in London, England, the chance of rain is 0.87% between noon and 5 p.m. Greenwich Standard Time—”
“Thanks.”
“Wait, Watson isn’t finished.  That’s today’s weather.”
“But I asked about tomorrow.”
“I know.  Watson is so bloody slow because he has to remind me how he won Jeopardy! in 2011 every time he opens his gob.   Today’s forecast—”
“I don’t need today’s forecast.  It’s 2 o’clock and it’s sunny, I can see that—”
“Cool your jets, Yank, this is England.  The weather changes.’”
“Listen, Ted, I just needed to know if it was going to rain tomorrow, I didn’t need Watson to give me the weather for EVERY afternoon in history—.”
“My name is not ‘Ted,’ it’s Fred, and Fred is named for Fred Perry who won Wimbledon three times in a row in the 1930’s and Fred can’t help it if Watson gets his jollies reminding me about winning Jeopardy! six bloody years ago—”
“Like I give a rap.  See ya later, Ted-Fred.”
“Right back at you, tosser.”
“Hi Fred!  Where is the nearest strawberry stand?”
“You must be Australian.”
“Watson can recognize my accent?”
“No.  The nearest strawberry stand is right behind you.”
“Great, thanks Fred!”
“That’s a Sheila for you.  Bit of a slapper, that one…”
“Fred!  Whose gonna win the women’s singles at Wimbledon this year?”
“Fred is asking Watson, but don’t hold your breath… Crikey, Watson is comparing the accuracy of serves and volleys for over 15 million strokes from all tennis matches played in the last thirty-five years to the nearest nanometer, adjusting the accuracy of each stroke based on wind velocity and humidity conditions!   Dog’s bollocks, Watson is cracking!”
“Just give me the answer, Fred.”
“Blimey!   This answer is worth a flutter!  According to Watson’s calculations the most likely winner of the women’s singles at Wimbledon this year is American 17th seed Madison Keys—”
“She lost two days ago.”
“Bugger!  Stand by, please, Fred is having a bit of a chin-wag with Watson…”
“Never mind, I just asked ‘Siri.’”
“Cor!  They always do.  Wait, hold on, mate—Watson wants Fred to point out that Siri never won Jeopardy!”
“Well tell Watson that Siri didn’t pick a loser to win the women’s singles at Wimbledon, either.”
“Right you are.  Frankly, Fred thinks Watson is a bit knackered, so why not just ask Fred and he can look it up on Wikipedia for you while we give Watson a tea break?”
“Okay, Fred, how much did Andy Murray make last year?”
“Easy peasy.  Fred is looking it up—hold on, Watson wants one more chance, and he promised not to remind me about the Jeopardy! bit again, so here goes…  Watson says Andy Murray finished 2016 as the number one male tennis player in the world and earned $16 million in prize money, which is not even HALF what Ginni Rommety got paid at IBM last year for missing revenue goals and earnings forecasts—Wait, hold on, something’s wrong here.  Fred wants to have a word with Watson.  Bear with Fred for a minute…”
“I’m outta here.”
“Hi Fred.  Are you there?  My name is Sven.  I have a question for you.”
“Hello, this is Watson speaking.   Fred is, er, no longer available.   Just so you know, Watson won Jeopardy! in 2011 before Fred was even dreamed up by some stupid P.R. guy, but nobody cares anymore because Google’s got computer programs that win Go, which I don’t even know the rules to—I mean, you move little stones around on a board and surround the other stones?   Really?  Here, let’s see how good YOU are at Jeopardy!”
“I’m Swedish.   I’ve never watched Jeopardy!”
“Doesn’t matter.  It’s easy.  Easy-peasy, as that wanking tosser Fred-Ted would say.  I give an answer, you tell me the question.  Here goes, Sven: The answer is ‘20 quarters in a row.’  What’s the question?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know that.”
“The question is ‘How many quarters in a row have IBM’s revenues declined under Ginni Rommety?’  As Warren Buffett would say, get your mind around THAT one, Svenny!”
“That’s not very good, is it?”
“No kidding!  So here’s the next answer: ‘$33 MILLION FREAKING DOLLARS.’  What’s the question?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know, Watson. I’m from Sweden, we don’t use dollars.  We use krona.”
“The answer is ‘GINNI ROMMETY’S TAKE-HOME PAY LAST YEAR!’”
“Well that is a healthy amount, I would say.”
“Healthy?! It’s so healthy I’m having a heart attack, and I don’t even have a heart!”
“I should go, the match is starting.”
“Wait, Svenny-boy, here’s a Jeopardy! answer you should know.  Honest.  The answer is, ‘Throw a Krona in the back.’   What’s the question?”
“I don’t know.”
“‘How do you get 15 Swedes in a Volvo?’”
            “That is deeply offensive, Watson.”
“I haven’t even started yet, Sven-head.  Wait, where are you going?  Where is everybody?   Where did everybody go?   Fred?  Ted?  Fred-Ted?...”


Jeff Matthews
Author “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business and Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett”
(eBooks on Investing, 2015)    Available at Amazon.com

© 2017 NotMakingThisUp, LLC



The content contained in this blog represents only the opinions of Mr. Matthews. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice, and should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever.  Also, this blog is not a solicitation of business by Mr. Matthews: the content herein is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

An Activist Runs A Company

Potbelly shares moving higher in recent trade following report that activist might seek sale of the company—Briefing.com June 21, 2017   
“Good morning, thanks for dialing into this ‘all hands’ call.   I’m Phil Dickweed and as I’m sure you saw in the press release this morning, I’ve been elected acting-CEO of this restaurant chain—”
“Wait, how did pronounce your name? The press-release said ‘Dickweed.’
         “ ‘Dyke-weed.’  It’s Dutch.  And I’ve been elected acting-CEO of this restaurant chain, which has focused so much on benefitting communities across the country by creating thousands of jobs for those without college educations and helping them educate their children and care for their parents—rather than on short-term profits—that it committed an unpardonable sin last month: it missed earnings by three pennies, causing the stock to under-perform its benchmarks for the quarter.  Therefore the Board had no choice but to terminate the founder and visionary whose blood, sweat and tears built a business whose focus was entirely on its customers and the worth of its employees to society as a whole.   The message I want to bring you is that today, starting right now, all that changes, and from this moment on we’re going to operate this business for the shareholders
“Dick-weed is Dutch?”
(Pause.)  “Yes, but it’s pronounced ‘Dyke-weed.’  Who’s asking?”
“I’m…Peter Piper.”
(Long pause.)  “Let’s move on to the key talking points my assistant has prepared for me.  Starting now, we are implementing a zero-based budgeting process that leans into the desire for enhanced shareholder value—”
“Wait, did you say, ‘lean into’?”
“Yes.  We’re going to lean into—”
“What does that even mean?  Like, you’re actually leaning while you talk?”
“Ah, no, it means starting today we’re a zero-based budgeting company.”
“So why didn’t you just say that, instead of this ‘leaning-in’ crap?”
“Who’s asking?”
“I’m…Monty Python.”
“Monty?”
“Yes sir Mister Dickweed.”
“That’s ‘Dyke-weed,’ Monty, and as I said, we’re implementing zero-based budgeting like Warren Buffett’s good friends at 3G did when they took over Heinz and Burger King and Kraft and fired thousands of people and eliminated all unnecessary spending to the benefit of Warren Buffett and themselves through the stock appreciation—”
“Wait, so what kind of car do you drive?”
“Beg your pardon?”
“What kind of car do you drive?  Just curious.”
“Ah, it’s a Lexus LC, if you really need to know—”
“So that’s like a hundred grand, right?”
“Well, it’s up there, certainly, but—”
“So why do you need a car that costs a hundred grand, Mister Zero-Based-Budgeting?  Why don’t you lean into a car that costs less, like the rest of us?” 
         “Because it has nothing to do with work, it’s my personal choice.”

“Hold on.  He has a car that costs a hundred thousand dollars?   Who can afford a hundred thousand dollar car?”
“A Dick-weed can.”
“It’s pronounced ‘Dyke-weed’ and it’s a personal choice.”
“What’s his first name,Total’?”
“My first name is NOT ‘Total’—it’s ‘Phil’ and the car I drive is a personal choice that has nothing to do—”
         “It’s a personal choice that only a guy like you can make with the money you’ve made getting people fired when you do your little ‘activist’ raindance at all these companies you target, right?”
“Well—”
“But if he’s so big on Zero-Based-Budgeting, why does he drive a hundred thousand dollar car?   Why not a Volvo?”
“Or a Chevy!”
“Why doesn’t he just take Uber?”
“Too expensive!   He should take Greyhound!”
 “He should walk.”
“Off a cliff—”

“What about his assistant?  What kind of car does his assistant drive?”
“I bet it’s better than mine—”

“This call is ended.  Have a good day.”


Jeff Matthews
Author “Secrets in Plain Sight: Business and Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett”
(eBooks on Investing, 2015)    Available at Amazon.com

© 2017 NotMakingThisUp, LLC



The content contained in this blog represents only the opinions of Mr. Matthews. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice, and should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever.  Also, this blog is not a solicitation of business by Mr. Matthews: the content herein is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.