This morning, my news aggregator served up this innocuous-looking piece from Infoworld (take a moment and check it out) which I read and suddenly found myself angry. The anger is because what this article describes as “what looks more and more like the way of the future” strikes me as more or less like complete bullshit. Details follow.

Apparently Kana, a company of which I know nothing, achieved all sorts of software wonderfulness by offshoring a bunch of development. Except for, there are several things here that set the detector a-flashin’ and ringin’ and buzzin’, viz:

  • The project “uses natural-language understanding” which, last time I checked, more or less amounts to being able to pass the Turing test, which a bunch of the smartest people in the world at MIT and Stanford and so on have notably failed to do, and it seems just a little unlikely that this bright shining goal can be offshored to wherever the cheap programmers are this year.

  • This software “recognizes what the customer is asking in an e-mail and can respond with templated answers from its knowledge base.” Yeah, right; I think this speaks for itself.

  • Said Kana managmement: “For every $1 we spend [in the United States], we spend 25 cents overseas.” It occurs to me that first of all, things that sound too good to be true usually are, and second, this kind of gross pricing anomaly cannot possibly survive in a connected global transparent market economy, which is more or less what we live in.

In other words, to strike a seasonal note: “Bah, Humbug!”

author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
picture of the day
December 22, 2003
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