close this bookVolume 1: No. 06
View the documentNews -- software industry
View the documentNews -- products and services
View the documentOpportunities -- competition; tax deduction; applications
View the documentDiscussion -- research tools
View the documentDiscussion -- engineering careers

Johns Hopkins University is offering a $10,000 prize in its NSF-supported search for aids for the handicapped. Write to Personal Computing to Assist Persons with Disabilities, P.O. Box 1200, Laurel, MD 20723. [Computer, 4/91.] (This is obviously a worthy cause, but I have to question whether developing aids for the disabled is a good career move. It's a rather small and cash-starved market. If you're after grants, though, this is an area that NSF loves to fund.)

The tax break for donating old technical journals can be considerable. Call Lou Scheffer at (408) 944-8675 to see if your back issues are needed by the six Black universities in South Africa. (Five-year spans, 90% complete, are desired.) [IEEE Grid, 5/91.]

The essence of most new applications is automation of a previously manual or computer-assisted data-analysis task. William Sands (UUtah) has had success with a Prolog-based expert system to monitor athlete's training responses. The system detects symptoms of overtraining, undertraining, diseases, growth spurts, and even psychological problems. If you were looking for a job developing an interesting new application, would you think to contact a coach? [Justin Kestelyn, AI Expert, 4/91.]

Another expert system is used by Alamo Rent-A-Car to set prices for every car, in every city, every day. Linear programming wins out over expert systems in many applications, but the models are difficult to build and maintain. For any such application now in use, there may be a market for expert systems to replace the linear model or to build a user-friendly interface to the existing package. [AI Expert, 4/91.]

Newsweek (5/6/91) mentions a computer program from Specialized Data Systems (Jenkinstown, PA) that generates form letters with variations in the phrasing -- thus concealing orchestrated letter- writing campaigns. Will NL scientists contribute to an identity- concealment measure-countermeasure war? Is there a market for translating text into assorted jargons and educational levels, with parametrized emotional content?

Another Newsweek article mentions that public acceptance of lotteries may soon revive horse racing as well -- a sport where a serious, restrained handicapper can consistently come out ahead. The future appears to favor "fewer, smaller tracks, elegantly appointed, televising live races to other tracks and betting parlors everywhere." Such flows of information and cash are bound to create opportunities for databases and handicapping programs. (Several such programs are already on the market.)

Karl Bergerson (Neural Trading Co., Seattle) claims spectacular performance for his neural-based trading system, Neural$. A fictional training account increased 660% in two years, and the system was 89% accurate on new data. He claims that the key element is his carefully chosen training data. (One can only wonder whether the same data would yield equally powerful statistical methods.) [Justin Kestelyn, AI Expert, 5/91.]