Remembering the legacy of Aretha Franklin

Some artists make music for themselves. Aretha Franklin created art to empower those around her. With her powerful voice and passion for justice, Franklin touched millions of lives, using both her voice and her platform to strive for lasting change.

In the early 1960s, growing pockets of America began to fight against systems of legalized segregation and sexism. Franklin played a role in those social movements and powerfully embodied the intersection of blackness and womanhood, with her song “Respect” becoming incredibly popular.

As an artist, she vowed to never perform for a segregated audience. She regularly hosted free concerts, provided housing for civil rights activists, participated in voter registration drives and aided in fundraising efforts. Her performance at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. is widely regarded as one of the most memorable moments in both music and civil rights history.

The list of Franklin’s accomplishments is nearly endless. Former Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh declared Feb. 16, 1968 “Aretha Franklin Day,” with the award presented to her by King himself. In 1979, she became one of the first black women to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Eight years later, she was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Mastering a unique fusion of gospel, R&B and soul, her career took off with the iconic album “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” which included the hit tracks “Respect,” “A Natural Woman” and “Soul Serenade.” Until last year, her 73 songs held the record for the most “Hot 100” hits by a female artist. Her profound influence over the evolution of music since then has gone unrivaled. Legendary singer Mary J. Blige summed it up perfectly when she said, “(Franklin) is the reason why women want to sing.”

The artist was formally honored for her activism in 2005 when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Four years later, Franklin performed at the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States. Recalling Franklin, Obama later said, “American history wells up when Aretha sings. Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll — the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope.”

Throughout her 60-year career, she won 18 Grammy awards, was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as the greatest vocalist of all time and earned the title of “Queen of Soul.” She pioneered both the soul and Motown sounds, while setting a precedent for black artists to make music that doubled as social commentary. She used her powerful voice as a singer and an activist to make a lasting impact on her community.

Aretha Franklin is an icon, a vanguard and a hero.

Jalen Nash is a junior political science major. His music column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email him at janash@syr.edu or follow him on Twitter @ja_nash3.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Philly creatives of color getting their due

Visual artist Uncool Chuck’s vision for a simple way to bring Philly’s brightest artistic talents and creatives together has evolved from a novel idea into one of the most poignant moments for Philly creatives of color in recent history.

With a concept inspired by legendary photographer Gordon Parks’ “A Great Day in Harlem” photo, Chuck (real name Chuck Lloyd) said his goal was to emulate Parks’ photo featuring jazz legends in front of a Harlem brownstone—but with a modern Philly twist: posing the group on the Art Museum Steps. It’s an event Chuck has organized three times since 2014.

In a major American city that is almost 50 percent black, Chuck is mindful of how uncommon it is for black and other creatives of color to get their just due for their work and contributions to the local cultural landscape. “It’s a majority of Black people [at this shoot] but it’s really something that represents the [entire] artist community and the youth. I don’t think we get acknowledged the way we should in regard to how much we contribute to art and culture,” Chuck said.

“We’ve got so many young, super-talented people here that fly under the radar because they aren’t [popular] on social media or in magazines but they’re still putting in work and they’re helping build what we call culture in the city,” he added. “This is something to highlight them in our own city and potentially to the world and whoever else in watching.”

Philly artist Uncool Chuck.

Writer and web designer Samirah Marshall is appreciative of Chuck’s efforts to bring the local creative community together. A young woman with Bantu knots and vintage frames, Marshall is proud to share how much being in this photo means to her. “This picture is a symbol that you really are working hard, and people see you. Knowing that someone that has been working for so long recognizes your talent makes me want to cry,” she said.

Coincidentally, a black architect designed the same steps Uncool Chuck and his creative peers of color assembled on. When Julian Abele designed the Art Museum steps more than 100 years ago, he helped lay the groundwork for later generations of black creatives to celebrate their triumphs.

While the placement of the photo shoot at the Art Museum’s steps was not intentional, the juxtaposition of black creatives at the footsteps of a mostly white establishment sends a message of resilience. Black artists have not been historically celebrated as much as their white peers, so this photo speaks to the optimism that the future will see more black and nonwhite creatives receiving an equal level of praise.

Beyond a beautiful photo shoot, Chuck wants the same relationships and connections made before and after this photo to last long after people leave the Art Museum steps. “As long as people leave feel inspiration and are inspired to continue to create and represent the city and themselves, that’s all I can really ask for,” he said.

Three Philly Creatives To Watch

In attendance at Uncool Chuck’s portrait event were three Philly creatives that you should be following.

Samirah Marshall is the CEO and editor-in-chief of DevaughnDigital, and a writer behind Umber and Ruumble, two platforms that focus on everything from wellness and lifestyle stories to analyzing and discussing anime, music and entertainment from the vantage point of a self-proclaimed “Black nerd.”

Music engineer Ben “iamBNJMIIN” Thomas is a recent Temple University graduate and has already worked with musicians like Jazmine Sullivan and Bryson Tiller and has had work appear in HBO’s hit show Insecure.

Temple University alumna Dyymond Whipper-Young is a painter and visual artist from Baltimore that has quickly become popular for her savvy skill in creating mixed media artwork.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Black investors help Durham’s African American-led SpokeHub raise $2M

DURHAM – Talk to the founders of black-led SpokeHub – hatched right here in the cradle of Durham and the first of its kind to bring a unique version of augmented reality to social media – they’d say there’s no need to celebrate. They’re just getting started.

But by all accounts, they’ve already beaten the odds.

This week, SpokeHub confirmed to WRAL TechWire that it has hit the $2 million mark after recently closing its second seed round.

For any startup, this is a significant milestone. But considering the well-documented fact that black founders often face disproportionate barriers to accessing funds, it’s a noteworthy achievement – even more so because most of the funds though not all – were raised by African-American investors.

“This is huge. The message is there are some impactful and very intentional African-American investors across the country,” said Richard Berryman III, one of SpokeHub’s five founders and head of Business Development.

SpokeHub

SpokeHub

Added American Underground’s top executive Doug Speight: “SpokeHub’s capital raise is truly historic.  Not only because they’ve raised $2 million but because they’ve raised it from black investors.”

It was only last December that the team – which also includes founders Robert Hartsfield, John York, John McAdory and Terry Johnson – launched its app. The team added an augmented reality and video feature (AR/VR) just a few months later.

“As far as we know, we are the first social platform to integrate AR/VR technology natively into the app, and give the AR purpose through our chat technology,” said Hartsfield, who serves as chief executive officer.

“We have a big vision for where we are going,” he added. “We are humbled to have raised the $2 million, but we have a long way to go.”

Black angel investors remain nameless

The company wouldn’t disclose the names of its latest investors for “compliance reasons,” but said that funds were raised from local and out-of-town investors.

Asked if they’d intentionally sought out funding from only black investors, Berryman answered with a resounding no.

“We did not solely seek out black investors. We pitched to any and everyone that we had the opportunity to get in front of. There were tons of folks,” he said.

But Hartsfield did point out:

“We are honored to disclose that a majority of our investment dollars have come from African-American investors.”

So why is that the case?

“I don’t know. I can’t answer that question,” he said. “But what we found is, the power of what SpokeHub is, and its potential impact is resonating with the people who are supporting us.”

From humble beginnings to growth mode

Back in 2016, the team was just starting out. It was among a handful of startups to take part in the inaugural Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange Black Founders. The week-long immersion program hosted by American Underground focuses on addressing the funding gap through mentorship, training and access to capital.

Since then, the company’s trajectory has skyrocketed. It opened its new office in RTP’s Frontier building last year, and another office in Charlotte in June. It‘s also working on projects with a host of companies using its AR SAAS [software as a service] technology and data on-demand solution.

This June, it partnered with sports analytics firm STATS to provide real-time insights to conversations about the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

SpokeHub has also been working closely with Durham’s Chamber of Commerce (DCC) for over a year. Through Spokehub’s platform, the Chamber has been able to connect members across industries and showcase development projects in Durham using AR technology. It is also exploring new ways to use AR for economic development.

WRAL TechWire photo

Aisha Cotton and Najauna White of the Durham Convention Visitors Bureau talk startups with Richard Berryman of SpokeHub. WRAL TechWire photo (Copyright by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

“It’s limitless,” said Myra Wooten, DCC’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “If we can use technology and AR [to tell Durham’s story], then it expands it even further. Because now the storytelling doesn’t have to be pen, paper, images or just renderings. You can sort of bring that to life for people in a way that I don’t know if anybody else is doing.”

With this latest cash infusion, SpokeHub is now in “growth mode,” but executives would not elaborate on where it plans to spend the funds.

Another part of the equation is keeping the team diverse. The company is proud to boast that among its eight full-time employees, many of its executives are women.

“The key for us is that we didn’t set out to only hire this way,” said SpokeHub’s Vice President of Marketing Taylor Glymph. “We simply scouted for the best person for each role.”

Above all, they hope to inspire the next generation of black entrepreneurs.

“We want to give people a forum to have real conversations and aggregate the voice of a community to impact change,” said Hartsfield, adding: “We’re not in Silicon Valley, we’re not in London, we’re headquartered right here in Durham with plans for further expansion. We did that on purpose because what we are doing is starting a movement.”

SpokeHub’s founders are expected to attend AU’s ImBlackInTech mixer on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at American Underground, 201 West Main Street, Durham, from 6-7.30pm.

In Leesburg, African-American Elders hold Mixed Views on Confederate Statue

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Editor’s note: This story is one of a four Capital News Service articles on how the debate over Confederate statues is playing out in small towns in the South.

Gertrude Evans, 70, was born into the Jim Crow South and lived through the rocky integration of Leesburg when firemen filled a swimming pool with cement and garbage rather than permit its integration.

More than a half-century later, she turned to art as therapy to work through that traumatic period when she wasn’t allowed to sit on the red stools at Little John’s drugstore or watch a movie at the neighborhood Tally Ho theater.

The white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last year brought “everything to the surface,” she told Capital News Service recently. “…  I mean you see (racism), you see it.”

For the first time, she said, she’s been thinking too about the Confederate statue in front of the Leesburg courthouse. She doesn’t believe it should be moved but, still, “it’s the first thing you see” downtown.

“It causes conversation — good.” But “take it down and put it in Ball’s Bluff (Battlefield), you’ll never see it again,” she said. History will be forgotten.

Leesburg’s statue, like so many others around the country, became the subject of renewed concern following the 2015 murder of nine black church members by a white supremacist who posed on social media with a Confederate flag. One member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has recommended the statue be moved to Ball’s Bluff Battlefield two and a half miles away where the Confederacy defeated the Union.

Virginia law prevents the county from moving or relocating the monument. In September 2017, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors decided not to ask the state for authority to move the statue, but it asked the county’s heritage commission to make recommendations this summer regarding the statue and its surroundings.

Capital News Service recently interviewed community members in Leesburg as part of a series exploring the views of African-American and white residents in five southern cities where Confederate statues stand on public land in front of courthouses.

Teams of reporters traveled to Anderson, South Carolina; Easton, Maryland; Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Franklin, Tennessee; and Leesburg, Virginia. They also interviewed leaders of the Maryland Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Most residents, black and white, were wary of taking dramatic steps, such as removing the statues, that would inflame tensions within their communities and could make it more difficult for future generations to understand the Civil War and segregationist Jim Crow eras. Most residents also said they preferred adding more context to Civil War memorials than removing them all together.

Derek Summers Jr., 36, and the founder of Loudoun County’s Citizens’ Committee against Domestic Violence, said he feels the Confederate statue’s gun pointing at him when he drives or walks past it on North King Street nearly every day.

“It’s like letting you know that in the hearts and mind of some of these folk here, the fight’s not over,” said Summers, seated on a bench next to the statue.

David Dixon, 59, owner of Jackson’s Barber Shop a few blocks down the road, has passed the statue on his commute to Leesburg for 24 years. He said the monument doesn’t bother him.

“My personality and the way I am, I really don’t care,” he said. “ … I look more toward the future than the past.”

Marquez Mitchell has passed the Leesburg statue when he visits Jackson’s for a haircut every few weeks. Confederate monuments “represent hatred and slavery, even though on paper they said we were free,” the Harpers Ferry resident said.

As a child, 41-year-old Chris Johnson would go to concerts near the courtyard of the statue. Johnson, a lifelong Leesburg resident, said the statue doesn’t bother him, but “what it stands for” does.

“They don’t need to destroy it necessarily, because there are people who find value in it. But I think for the greater good it is something that should be moved,” Johnson said.

Jim Roberts who leads a walking tour to commemorate African-American history here, leaves the statue off his itinerary. As a child, Roberts played near the statue and never paid much attention to it. He believes the newcomers are offended by it, not so much the old-timers.

“I can’t waste time thinking about what happened 150 years ago because it’s over and done with,” he said.

Horace Nelson Lassiter, 84, a barber at Robinson’s Barber shop which opened in 1962 said the statue “doesn’t bother me. I don’t care what is already done,” he said.

Lassiter was one of the first black police officers in the Loudoun County Deputy Sheriff’s Department in the 1960’s, and took the position “to show black people that they could get a job.”

“There’s still racism (in Leesburg). It hasn’t changed … It’s not the younger people, it’s the older people in my age group,” Lassiter said.

Lassiter’s wife, Mary Louise Lassiter, 81, a prominent activist in Loudoun County and

former local NAACP chapter president wants the statue to stay and for visitors to understand the pain slaves went through on courthouse grounds.

“When they’re told, hopefully they’ll understand the torture of all of those people who were put in those stocks.”

Formerly A Slave Market, Now a Favorite Lunch Spot

The square where the statue sits operated as a slave market throughout of the Civil War. Today the statue is surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, a bar and the original courthouse. Government employees often lunch feet away from where whipping posts, cages and auction blocks once stood.

While the slave auctions in Leesburg were much smaller than those in other Virginia towns, the courthouse was the epicenter of the city’s slavery institution. In 1856, the court ordered that whippings move off courthouse property, according to newspaper advertisements at the time.

Three lynchings of black men accused of crimes also took place in Leesburg, in 1880, 1889 and 1902, according to the “Lynching in Virginia” history project at George Mason University.

Six years later, in 1908, the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Leesburg chapter paid to have the statue erected to commemorate soldiers who had died in the war. Like most

Confederate statues across the South, the Leesburg statue’s unveiling came during “a terrible period of disenfranchisement — the Jim Crow period where enforced segregation and disenfranchisement really started to bleed,” said Jim Hall, author of the “Last Lynching in Northern Virginia.”

The president of the Leesburg chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy declined to comment, but the national organization has said it does not support racism, white supremacy or the white nationalists who rallied in Charlottesville, and that it opposes their use of Confederate symbols.  Many of its members say the Civil War was not about preserving slavery, a view historians dispute.

“The statues that celebrate the Confederacy were put up when African-Americans were demanding to be treated like human beings,” Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair said Phyllis Randall, the only member of the board to vote in favor of asking the state for authority over the statue.

Known as “Loudoun’s silent sentinel,” the bronze figure built by famed sculptor Frederick William Sievers is a soldier with his gun cocked and his eyes fixed forward. It stands higher than both the Korean War monument to the right of the courthouse entrance and the Revolutionary War monument to the left.

In 2005, the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter organized the cleaning and rededication of the statue.

It was cleaned with ground up walnut shells to help dissolve the mint green oxidation covering it.

Statue Oversees Businesses District

The generic soldier has an unobstructed view of the Downtown Saloon, a biker bar established in the 1960’s and decorated in bras and Confederate symbols. The menus have images of the courthouse and statue on them. The bar sells T-shirts with art of the statue. Sometimes, motorcycle riding members of the Mechanized Cavalry of the Sons of Confederate Veterans visit and park outside.

A sticker on the mirror behind the bar says “Dixie Rider,” overlayed on top of a Confederate flag.

Scott Warner, in a black T-shirt with a Confederate flag on the left pocket, said of the statue: “Any soldier who dies for what he believes in needs to be honored.” The statue’s fate has “become a political issue and it shouldn’t be,” he said. “It’s our history.”

Not many people paid attention to the statue “until Charlottesville,” said 46-year-old Jim Boyce, seated in the restaurant. “You can’t get rid of everything,” he said. “If you get rid of everything, the history isn’t here.”

Margaret Brown, a member of the Black History Committee at the local Thomas Balch Library, protested against the statue last summer after the march in Charlottesville. She said the biker bar was an intimidating presence for protestors.

“There were some guys who were across the bar who were pretty aggressive with their motorcycles,” revving the engines and glaring at the protestors, she said.

Phillip Thompson, president of the Loudoun County NAACP, said the statue shouldn’t be located in a place for justice.

“The courthouse is a seat of power and people were trying to send a message to black citizens,” he said.

Pastor Michelle Thomas, a member of the nine-person commission assessing the future of the statue, said the statue “has the microphone —  of hate and oppression and fear.”

Evans, though, has mixed feelings. The statue controversy has made her want to know more about the Civil War era.

“I know my ancestors were enslaved. But I don’t know how they were treated,” she said. “It just makes me think and wonder … I’m very interested in that whole era.”

By Alexandria Carolan

CNS staff writers Ariel Guillory and Elisee Browchuk contributed to this report.

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White American Missionary Punching a Black African: “Nigger Bitch, Look at Christ Who Died for You.”

Grand Imperial Hotel is next to the tallest building in this image.

Grand Imperial Hotel is next to the tallest building in this image. Lingbee/gettyimages.com

In this incident—which recently occurred at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala, Uganda—we have the three basic components of American conservatism in full and ugly American force: militarism, racism, and Christianity. The white man in the video is Jimmy Taylor, an American pastor, missionary, and Vietnam vet. He wears a veteran cap. He chases and repeatedly hits a black African hotel employee named Francis. The employee does not defend himself. He can only fold his arms, not be threatening, and be hit—blow, after blow, after blow, after blow. He must take it because good and secure jobs are hard to find in poor Africa. It is also understood that the likeliness of the white man being arrested or charged is very low. But eventually the police had to do something because the video of the assault went viral. (It is reported that during the arrest, the pastor spat on the black officers.)

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Francis is called nigger several times. The white pastor accuses him of hating Jesus, who died for his nigger bitch sins. The pastor says: “Jesus is tired of [black] disobedience.” The pastor warns that Francis and the other niggers are going to be killed in three days. Why? Because blacks are not humans. The pastor is the king of the Grand Imperial Hotel.

The whole incident exposed the raw white supremacist roots of American militarism and Evangelism. Taylor is not crazy; he is only, in a moment of intoxicated clarity, conducting the essence of the American right. Recall that copper is an excellent conductor of electricity because it offers very low resistance to charged particles. With Pastor Taylor, the medium that presents very little resistance to his Jesus-charged racism is he being white in a very poor black country. Taylor has supreme power; he knows he can do and say what he wants. He can hit a nigger fearlessly. He never expected to be arrested.

An Afro-Surrealistic Worldview Looms Over This Year’s Video Music Awards

The Carters, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, are among the top nominees at the 2018 MTV VMAs. YouTube/screenshot by NPR hide caption

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YouTube/screenshot by NPR

The Carters, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, are among the top nominees at the 2018 MTV VMAs.

YouTube/screenshot by NPR

A couple of years ago, when viral videos of black death were all the rage in America, MTV rolled out one of the blackest Video Music Awards in the show’s history.

Comedians Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele co-hosted as faux social media influencers @LizardSheeple and @TheShamester, in sketches parodying the most inane corners of Black Twitter. Rihanna performed a total of four times (not including her artful dodging of Drake’s desperate attempt at a kiss while presenting her with the Video Vanguard Award). Seven years after crashing Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, Kanye West got seven uninterrupted minutes to ramble about Hollywood’s incestuous web of fame and infamy, while shouting out his old girlfriend Amber Rose, his wife Kim Kardashian and her one-time fling Ray J. A toned Teyana Taylor gave viewers a visual workout in the premiere of Ye’s new video for “Fade.” Beyoncé took home the most trophies by the night’s end, including one for video of the year (“Formation”), after performing a 16-minute medley of songs from her groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. It was one of those rare award shows where all the black artists who were supposed to win did, at a moment when Black America was practically dying to have its humanity acknowledged.

For a cable network whose beginnings were defined by charges of racism before breaking its own color barrier with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” in 1983, this was peak blackness. “I can’t recall a Blacker time,” Damon Young of the blog Very Smart Brothas wrote in his VMAs review the following day. “The hosts were Black, the co-hosts were Black, the presenters were (mostly) Black, the performers were (mostly) Black, the winners were (mostly) Black, and even Kanye was (mostly) Black last night.” Whether coincidence or consequence, it felt like the show had been programmed in defiance of the times.

Two months earlier, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile had become the latest black men whose deaths at the hands of police sparked outrage after being captured on video. The surreal frequency of such videos, showing unsuspecting victims executed without the benefit of judge or jury, had already reached the point of absurdity. That point of view has since taken root in the visual language of music videos suffused with an increasingly Afro-Surrealist bent.

If black folk had relied on mainstream recognition to affirm our existence or accurately reflect our cultural contributions, we might be nearing extinction by now. But award shows, through inclusion and exclusion, offer a useful lens through which to see how pop culture is framing the politics of the day. To be clear, the VMAs have always been the most colorful of the mainstream music awards, the Jheri-curled stepchild of institutions that produce the Grammys and such. And black artists have earned far better recognition at the VMAs — like Kendrick Lamar, who walked away with six wins in 2017 — than any other award shows.

Of the nearly 120 nominations at this year’s show, artists of color lead the pack with 30, split between Cardi B, The Carters (Beyoncé and Jay-Z), Childish Gambino and Drake alone. Black artists, in particular, are reveling in a renaissance of the music video as a form of protest and cultural critique. In a year contextualized by the racial divisiveness and gender bigotry that’s become a hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency, absurdity truly is the new black.

When MTV launched in 1981 — with the slogan “You’ll never look at music the same way again” — videos were virtually an afterthought in the music industry. Even for the VMAs, which started in 1984, videos have always been ancillary to the award show’s primary purpose — gathering the biggest names in pop under one rowdy circus tent. Last year’s show reportedly drew the lowest TV ratings in VMA history. It’s a reminder that music videos don’t live on MTV anymore, they live on the Internet, where the award show itself is increasingly streamed by viewers.

Today, artists in hip-hop, R&B and Latin pop owe their collective climb in consumption directly to the world’s largest streaming site: YouTube. They’ve used the free platform in inventive ways to extend both creative depth and commercial reach. This new symbiotic relationship, in which videos are no longer mere conduits for music consumption but an intrinsic part of the content being consumed, is exactly what media critic Marshall McLuhan was referring to over 50 years ago when he said, “The medium is the message.”

The most urgent and impactful videos nominated this year are those in which the video release doubled as the surprise debut of the song. Whether it be the vagina pants of Janelle Monáe’s “PYNK,” the shooting of the church choir in Childish Gambino’s “This is America” or the Louvre takeover in The Carters’ “Apeshit,” these symbols are tied to the identity of these songs and the way we process them. Much of this has to do with a rise in creative risk-taking.

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YouTube

“Just looking at the videos that are up for best hip-hop video, but particularly the other best art direction videos, there is a certain amount of freedom in a lot of them,” says Miles Mullin, who is nominated for best art direction for his work on J. Cole’s “ATM.” The video, like Cole’s album KOD, satirizes the infatuation with material things and self-medication central to certain segments of rap. To symbolize the insanity, Mullin made oversize objects including a seven-foot bottle of cough syrup.

For Ernie Gilbert, who’s up for best editing on Gambino’s “This is America,” the tonal shift in music video production is being fueled in part by a change in the music’s messaging. “We’re in an interesting place with music videos,” he says. Gilbert has worked in the medium for eight years and also works with with the video’s director, Hiro Murai, as an editor on Donald Glover’s Atlanta. “We’ve come to a place where it seems like the old gimmicks don’t work anymore, in terms of getting people excited about a video — like, how many beautiful houses and awesome cars can we be in?” But creating content intent on conveying a message doesn’t mean sacrificing creativity. “It goes back to that idea that audiences are more savvy, the world is a little bit more dialed in,” he says. “You want to think about the messages, what you’re conveying and how you’re doing it, so that you walk that fine line between something being cheesy [like] a PSA or something being unnecessarily inflammatory. In our crazy news cycle with everything that’s going on, how do you keep your message kind of true and authentic? It’s not easy and it’s something that hopefully people are thinking about as they are working on stuff. I know I am.”

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YouTube

He credits Gambino and Murai with creating an explosive video that quite literally “danced around some really hard subjects in a nuanced way, in a way that I think really encouraged discussion.”

Likewise, Janelle Monáe’s “PYNK” became an instant conversation piece when it premiered online this past April. Nominated in several categories, including video with a message, the visual’s provocative vagina pants, worn by Monáe and her accompanying dancers, speak volumes in the wake of President Trump’s admitted predilection for grabbing private parts. “If you try to grab my pussycat / This pussy grab you back,” as Monáe sings on Dirty Computer’s “I Got The Juice.” But it’s Monáe’s self-declaration — revealing in an interview with Rolling Stone this year that she identifies as pansexual — characterized by the creative play between Monáe and the cast of women, including actress and friend Tessa Thompson, that bridges the link between black queendom and queerdom.

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“In personal ways, she opened up about things that she didn’t before,” says Emma Westenberg, the video’s director who collaborated extensively with Monae and her team on the making of “PYNK.” “She saw that people came out to their own families because of that video and because of her being open. That is the best possible outcome you can have as a maker — to encourage and inspire people.” For Westenberg, it also served as an opportunity to revel in her own womanhood as a director. “I’m so happy that I can be following my interests and developing myself as a person without people saying, ‘Wait, aren’t you supposed to be married by now? Aren’t you supposed to have kids by now?’ The role of a woman in society has grown so much broader. My mom and my grandma are so jealous. “

As pop’s personification of black excellence, Beyoncé and Jay-Z flaunted their status by taking over the Louvre in “APES***.” But the video, released in tandem with The Carters’ surprise album drop of Everything Is Love in June, also offers a pointed critique of the white gaze. Even the title, “APES***,” works as an intentional subversion of the historically racist trope likening black people to primates. The visual power of “APES***” lies in the extreme juxtaposition of black bodies filling up a classically white, colonialist-curated space with unadulterated movement and representation. Bey and Jay frame themselves against the backdrop of the Mona Lisa; dancers in every shade of black wind their hips in front of the painting of Emperor Napoleon and Empress Joséphine; Beyoncé thrashes wildly in front of the frozen sculpture of the winged greek goddess Nike.

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“We just wanted to act a fool in such a beautiful space,” says choreographer JaQuel Knight, who’s consistently worked with Beyoncé since “Single Ladies,” the video that ironically lost to Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me” in the category of best female video at the VMAs in 2009. “Black culture is the new art, it’s the new voice of now. From music to how we dance — the vibe and energy — everyone kind of wants a piece of it.”

Filmed after-hours while preparing for the European leg of the On The Run II tour, the video’s director, Ricky Saiz, only had two nights in the Louvre to pull it off. Knight collaborated with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, artistic director of Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium, to create the video’s choreography, or “vibe pieces,” as Knight prefers to call them. “I just kind of make sure everything stays as black and cultural and funky and fun and relevant and cool [as it should be],” he says.

“To see the contrast of these beautiful black people in such a white space — that’s art right there. The beauty of just being there was so strong, so it really didn’t take much as far as absorbing the space. The art speaks for itself. Bey and Jay, they’re modern-day Mona Lisas. The dancers, their bodies and the shapes of these beautiful black women; it’s just wow. It was like a homerun, you knew it was gonna win.”

No matter who the big winners are at the 2018 VMAs, it’s becoming impossible to ignore the chorus of voices and images collectively screaming out how much black lives and black culture and black liberation matter. But it’s not entirely new, and VMA recognition is far from exhaustive, even for 2018. “I think that black artists have always been making huge visual statements,” Westenberg says. The difference, she adds, is it feels like “people are finally listening, or seeing, or appreciating it.”

In that sense, the Bey and Jay takeover of the Louvre is a cultural metaphor that’s been a long time coming. “Yeah, it’s a takeover,” Knight says, “But it’s also just: We’re here to stay. You can’t play us anymore. It’s like we’re here. Not even a takeover; we’ve done that part already and now: Boom! This is it.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Newspaper has fallen on the wrong side of abortion dispute

Richard Doerflinger
Richard Doerflinger, who worked for 36 years in the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, writes the “A More Human Society” column for Catholic News Service. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

By RICHARD DOERFLINGER

The Senate debate over a new U.S. Supreme Court nomination has revived an older debate: whether that court should overrule its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision declaring a “right” to abortion. A publication called the National Catholic Reporter has entered that debate, on the wrong side.

NCR has criticized church teaching on sex and procreation for many years. But its July 27 editorial against protection for unborn children breaks new ground in dismissing Catholic social teaching and some basic facts.

To begin with the teaching: The church holds that government must respect the innate dignity and rights of everyone. The first and most basic right, the condition for all others, is the right to life. If that right is not inherent in each member of the human family, it is not a basic right but a privilege, which government can grant to some but not others based on what it favors at a given time.

And as many abortion advocates now admit, the child in the womb is a living human being. (Even the Supreme Court has spoken of respect for the “life” of the unborn in recent years, abandoning the incoherent term “potential life” used in Roe.)

So Roe v. Wade is an unjust law. It has no moral authority and should be reversed, like past laws discriminating against black Americans, people with mental disabilities, members of minority religions and Americans of Japanese descent.

NCR ignores this human rights teaching, relying instead on practical arguments borrowed from Planned Parenthood’s former research affiliate, the Guttmacher Institute. Let me comment on three of these.

Claim No. 1: “Criminalizing abortion is not the answer.”

NCR even cites an uninformed (and quickly retracted) comment by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump to suggest that pro-life laws could impose criminal penalties on women as well as abortionists, though the pro-life movement rejects this idea. In any case, pro-life laws — not only criminal laws but even modest regulations on issues like informed consent and parental involvement — reduce abortions. And Roe poses a threat even to such laws.

In 2016, the Supreme Court knocked down a Texas law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital so they can address complications, and to obey safety standards that govern other outpatient surgical clinics. Why? Because the court saw the law as intended to reduce ready access to abortion.

Claim No. 2: The way to reduce abortion is more contraception.

NCR even claims that a decline in abortion rates after 2011 was due to the contraceptive mandate in the Obama health care plan. Yet studies have shown no decline in abortions from contraceptive programs or contraceptive coverage mandates.

The abortion rate has declined steadily since 1981, regardless of different administrations’ birth control policies. The most recent decline seems largely due to a dramatic decline in teen sexual activity and an increase in the proportion of pregnant women who let their babies live.

Claim No. 3: Laws against abortion only lead to dangerous “back-alley” abortions.

This claim was made against bans on public funding of abortion in the 1970s, and was disproved. Even Guttmacher has admitted that such bans reduce abortions among the women affected.

NCR also ignores the hundreds of women dying from legal abortions since Roe was issued. Slate magazine is among those documenting this tragedy in its 2011 series “The Back Alley: How the Politics of Abortion Protects Bad Clinics.”

NCR’s editors do endorse material assistance for pregnant women’s needs, and that is welcome. What they ignore is the question: Why should government bother with real assistance, as long as it elevates to a constitutional right the solution that is quick, simple, bad for women and unjust?

– – –

Doerflinger worked for 36 years in the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He writes from Washington state.

AI chips for big data and machine learning: GPUs, FPGAs, and hard choices in the cloud and on-premise

How AI, the cloud, and Big Data are transforming the pharmaceutical industry

Applications and infrastructure evolve in lock-step. That point has been amply made, and since this is the AI regeneration era, infrastructure is both enabling AI applications to make sense of the world and evolving to better serve their needs.

As things usually go, the new infrastructure stack to power AI applications has been envisioned and given a name — Infrastructure 3.0 — before it is fully fledged. We set off to explore both the obvious, here and now, and the less obvious, visionary parts of this stack.

In order to keep things manageable, we will limit ourselves to “specialized hardware with many computing cores and high bandwidth memory” and call it AI chips for short. We take a look at how these AI chips can benefit data-centric tasks, both in terms of operational databases and analytics as well as machine learning (ML).

Also: What is machine learning? Everything you need to know

Let us commence on the first part of this journey with the low-hanging fruit: GPUs and FPGAs.

GPUs

Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) have been around for a while. Initially designed to serve the need for fast rendering, mainly for the gaming industry, the architecture of GPUs has proven a good match for machine learning.

Essentially GPUs leverage parallelism. This is something CPUs can do as well, but as opposed to general-purpose CPUs, the specialized nature of GPUs has enabled them to continue to evolve at a pace that keeps up with Moore’s law. Nvidia, the dominant player in the GPU scene, recently announced a new set of GPUs based on an architecture called Turing.

Also: How the GPU became the heart of AI and machine learning

Lest we forget, the new Nvidia GPUs actually bring improvements for graphics rendering. But, more importantly for our purposes, they pack Tensor Cores, the company’s specialized architecture for machine learning, and introduces NGX. NGX is a technology which, as Nvidia puts it, brings AI into the graphics pipelines: “NGX technology brings capabilities such as taking a standard camera feed and creating super slow motion like you’d get from a $100,000+ specialized camera.”

That may not be all that exciting if you are interested in general-purpose ML, but the capabilities of the new Nvidia cards sure are. Its prices, however, definitely reflect their high-end nature, ranging from US$2.5K to $10K.

gpu-acceleration.jpg

GPUs can greatly accelerate workloads that can be broken down in parts to be executed in parallel, working in tandem with CPUs. Image: SQream.

But it takes more than a hardware architecture to leverage GPUs — it also takes software. And this is where things have gone right for Nvidia, and wrong for the competition, such as AMD. The reason Nvidia is so far ahead in the use of GPUs for machine learning applications lies in the libraries (CUDA and cuDNN) needed to use GPUs.

Although there is an alternative software layer that can work with AMD GPUs, called OpenCL, maturity and support for it are not at par with Nvidia’s libraries at this point. AMD is trying to catch up, and it also competes on the hardware front, but there is a bigger point to be made here.

In order to benefit from AI chips, the investment required goes beyond the hardware. A software layer that sits on top of these chips to optimize code running on them is required. Without it, they are practically unusable. But learning how to make use of this layer is also needed.

We already mentioned how GPUs are currently the AI chip of choice for ML workloads. Most popular ML libraries support GPUs — Caffe, CNTK, DeepLearning4j, H2O, MXnet, PyTorch, SciKit, and TensorFlow to name just a few. In addition to learning the specifics of each library, building it for GPU environments is often needed too.

As for plain-old data operations and analytics — one word: GPU databases. A new class of databases systems have been developed with the goal of utilizing GPU parallelism under the hood to bring the benefits of off-the-shelf hardware to mainstream application development. Some of the options in this space are BlazingDB, Brytlyt, Kinetica, MapD, PG-Strom, and SQream.

FPGAs

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are not really new either — they have been around since the 80s. The main idea behind them is that, as opposed to other chips, they can be reconfigured on demand. You may wonder how is this possible, how does this make them specialized, and what are they good for.

Also: Simulation and Synthesis of Field-Programmable Gate Array TechRepublic

FPGAs can be simplistically thought of as boards containing low-level chip fundamentals, such as AND and OR gates. FPGA configuration is typically specified using a hardware description language (HDL). Using this HDL the fundamentals can be configured in a way that matches the requirements of specific tasks or applications, in essence mimicking application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

Having to reprogram your chips via HDL for every different application sounds complex. So again, the software layer is crucial. According to Jim McGregor, principal analyst with Tirias Research, “the toolset to build FPGAs is still ancient. Nvidia has done well with the CUDA language to leverage GPUs. With FPGA it’s still kind of a black art to build an algorithm efficiently.”

opae.pngopae.png

Intel is throwing its weight behind FPGAs, possibly as a way to make up for having being left behind in GPUs. But the FPGA software layer is yet not as mature as that of GPUs. Image: Intel

But that may be changing. Originally it was Intel who showed interest in FPGAs, acquiring Altera, one of the key FPGA manufacturers. It is possible that this is Intel’s way of pushing into the AI chips world, which will be increasingly important, after having been left behind in the GPU battle. But, complexity aside, can FPGAs compete?

Intel recently published research evaluating emerging deep learning (DL) algorithms on two generations of Intel FPGAs (Intel Arria10 and Intel Stratix 10) against the NVIDIA Titan X Pascal GPU. The gist of this research was that Intel Stratix 10 FPGA outperforms the GPU when using pruned or compact data types versus full 32 bit floating point data (FP32).

What this means in plain english is that Intel’s FPGAs could compete with GPUs, as long as low precision data types are used. This may sound bad, but it is actually an emerging trend in DL. The rationale is to simplify calculations, while maintaining comparable accuracy.

Also: What is deep learning? Everything you need to know

That may well mean that there is a bright future in using FPGAs for ML. Today, however, things do not look that bright. In verification of McGregor’s statement, there does not seem to be a single ML library that supports FPGAs out of the box. There is work under way to make using FPGAs possible with TensorFlow, but precious little else besides that.

Things are different when it comes to data operations and analytics however. Recently Intel presented some of the partners it works with for FPGA-accelerated analytics. Swarm64 looks like the most interesting among them, promising immediate speedup of up to 12 times for PostgreSQL, MariaDB, and MySQL. Other options are rENIAC, offering what it says is a times-13 accelerated version of Cassandra, and Algo-Logic, with its custom key-value store.

Hard choices, in the cloud and on-premise

As usual, there is an array of hard choices to be made with emerging technology, and hardware is no exception. Should you build your own infrastructure, or use the cloud? Should you wait until offerings become more mature, or jump onboard now and reap the early adopter benefits? Should you go for GPUs, or FPGAs? And then, which GPU or FPGA vendor?

When discussing GPU databases with fellow ZDNet contributor and analyst Tony Baer, for example, Baer opined that none of them have a future on their own. That is because, according to Baer, the economics of GPUs are such that only cloud providers will be able to accumulate them at scale, therefore GPU database vendors will be eventual targets for acquisition by cloud-based databases.

Also: Taking the pulse of machine learning adoption

In fact, one such acquisition, that of Blazegraph by AWS, has already transpired. But while that does make sense, it’s not the only plausible scenario. If we’re talking about acquisitions, it’s entirely possible that GPU databases could be acquired by non-cloud database vendors who will want to bring such capabilities to their products.

It is also possible that some GPU database vendors will come into their own. GPU databases may seem less mature compared to incumbents now, but the same could be said for many NoSQL solutions 10 years ago. GPU databases seem like a tempting option for everyday operations and analytics, although the question remains as to whether the cost of replacing existing systems is outweighed by the gains in performance.

Swarm64 and rENIAC, on the other hand, are FPGA offerings that promise to leave your existing infrastructure as untouched as possible, especially in the case of Swarm64. Although their maturity remains an open question, the idea of “simply” adding hardware to your existing database and getting a much better performance out of it sounds promising.

As far as the GPU versus FPGA question is concerned, GPUs seem to have a wider and more mature ecosystem, but FPGAs offer superior flexibility. It has also been suggested that FPGAs may offer a better performance/consumption ratio, and that going forward GPUs may have trouble keeping up with low precision data types, as they would have to redesign extensively to support this.

hybridcloud.jpghybridcloud.jpg

Which one works best for you – GPUs or FPGAs? Cloud, or on premise?

ktsimage, Getty Images/iStockphoto

In terms of what GPU or FPGA vendor to choose, the options are intertwined with the cloud or on premise question. GPUs are on offer on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, all of which use Nvidia for their GPU-enabled instances. FPGAs, on the other hand, are on offer on AWS (EC2 F1 powered by Xilinx) and Azure (Project Brainwave powered by Intel), but not on Google Cloud.

AWS does not seem to provide ML-specific facilities for F1. Microsoft lets users deploy trained ML models, but there is not much information on how to train such models on FPGA-powered instances. Google, for its part, is throwing its weight behind its custom TPU chips.

For the million dollar question — should you go cloud or build your own infrastructure — the answer may be not that different from what applies in general: it depends.

If you use your infrastructure enough, perhaps it would make sense to invest in buying and installing, but for occasional use the cloud seems like a better fit. For other cases it might as well be mix-and-match.

And a special note: if you have a Hadoop cluster, it may make sense to add GPU or FPGA capabilities to it, as Hadoop has just been upgraded to support both options.

Of course, we have not covered all options — these are neither the only clouds, nor the only AI chips in town. This is a nascent area with many emerging players, and we will be revisiting it soon.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

AI chips for big data and machine learning: Hard choices in the cloud and on-premise

How AI, the cloud, and Big Data are transforming the pharmaceutical industry

Applications and infrastructure evolve in lock-step. That point has been amply made, and since this is the AI regeneration era, infrastructure is both enabling AI applications to make sense of the world and evolving to better serve their needs.

As things usually go, the new infrastructure stack to power AI applications has been envisioned and given a name — Infrastructure 3.0 — before it is fully fledged. We set off to explore both the obvious, here and now, and the less obvious, visionary parts of this stack.

In order to keep things manageable, we will limit ourselves to “specialized hardware with many computing cores and high bandwidth memory” and call it AI chips for short. We take a look at how these AI chips can benefit data-centric tasks, both in terms of operational databases and analytics as well as machine learning (ML).

Also: What is machine learning? Everything you need to know

Let us commence on the first part of this journey with the low-hanging fruit: GPUs and FPGAs.

GPUs

Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) have been around for a while. Initially designed to serve the need for fast rendering, mainly for the gaming industry, the architecture of GPUs has proven a good match for machine learning.

Essentially GPUs leverage parallelism. This is something CPUs can do as well, but as opposed to general-purpose CPUs, the specialized nature of GPUs has enabled them to continue to evolve at a pace that keeps up with Moore’s law. Nvidia, the dominant player in the GPU scene, recently announced a new set of GPUs based on an architecture called Turing.

Also: How the GPU became the heart of AI and machine learning

Lest we forget, the new Nvidia GPUs actually bring improvements for graphics rendering. But, more importantly for our purposes, they pack Tensor Cores, the company’s specialized architecture for machine learning, and introduces NGX. NGX is a technology which, as Nvidia puts it, brings AI into the graphics pipelines: “NGX technology brings capabilities such as taking a standard camera feed and creating super slow motion like you’d get from a $100,000+ specialized camera.”

That may not be all that exciting if you are interested in general-purpose ML, but the capabilities of the new Nvidia cards sure are. Its prices, however, definitely reflect their high-end nature, ranging from US$2.5K to $10K.

gpu-acceleration.jpg

GPUs can greatly accelerate workloads that can be broken down in parts to be executed in parallel, working in tandem with CPUs. Image: SQream.

But it takes more than a hardware architecture to leverage GPUs — it also takes software. And this is where things have gone right for Nvidia, and wrong for the competition, such as AMD. The reason Nvidia is so far ahead in the use of GPUs for machine learning applications lies in the libraries (CUDA and cuDNN) needed to use GPUs.

Although there is an alternative software layer that can work with AMD GPUs, called OpenCL, maturity and support for it are not at par with Nvidia’s libraries at this point. AMD is trying to catch up, and it also competes on the hardware front, but there is a bigger point to be made here.

In order to benefit from AI chips, the investment required goes beyond the hardware. A software layer that sits on top of these chips to optimize code running on them is required. Without it, they are practically unusable. But learning how to make use of this layer is also needed.

We already mentioned how GPUs are currently the AI chip of choice for ML workloads. Most popular ML libraries support GPUs — Caffe, CNTK, DeepLearning4j, H2O, MXnet, PyTorch, SciKit, and TensorFlow to name just a few. In addition to learning the specifics of each library, building it for GPU environments is often needed too.

As for plain-old data operations and analytics — one word: GPU databases. A new class of databases systems have been developed with the goal of utilizing GPU parallelism under the hood to bring the benefits of off-the-shelf hardware to mainstream application development. Some of the options in this space are BlazingDB, Brytlyt, Kinetica, MapD, PG-Strom, and SQream.

FPGAs

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are not really new either — they have been around since the 80s. The main idea behind them is that, as opposed to other chips, they can be reconfigured on demand. You may wonder how is this possible, how does this make them specialized, and what are they good for.

Also: Simulation and Synthesis of Field-Programmable Gate Array TechRepublic

FPGAs can be simplistically thought of as boards containing low-level chip fundamentals, such as AND and OR gates. FPGA configuration is typically specified using a hardware description language (HDL). Using this HDL the fundamentals can be configured in a way that matches the requirements of specific tasks or applications, in essence mimicking application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

Having to reprogram your chips via HDL for every different application sounds complex. So again, the software layer is crucial. According to Jim McGregor, principal analyst with Tirias Research, “the toolset to build FPGAs is still ancient. Nvidia has done well with the CUDA language to leverage GPUs. With FPGA it’s still kind of a black art to build an algorithm efficiently.”

opae.pngopae.png

Intel is throwing its weight behind FPGAs, possibly as a way to make up for having being left behind in GPUs. But the FPGA software layer is yet not as mature as that of GPUs. Image: Intel

But that may be changing. Originally it was Intel who showed interest in FPGAs, acquiring Altera, one of the key FPGA manufacturers. It is possible that this is Intel’s way of pushing into the AI chips world, which will be increasingly important, after having been left behind in the GPU battle. But, complexity aside, can FPGAs compete?

Intel recently published research evaluating emerging deep learning (DL) algorithms on two generations of Intel FPGAs (Intel Arria10 and Intel Stratix 10) against the NVIDIA Titan X Pascal GPU. The gist of this research was that Intel Stratix 10 FPGA outperforms the GPU when using pruned or compact data types versus full 32 bit floating point data (FP32).

What this means in plain english is that Intel’s FPGAs could compete with GPUs, as long as low precision data types are used. This may sound bad, but it is actually an emerging trend in DL. The rationale is to simplify calculations, while maintaining comparable accuracy.

Also: What is deep learning? Everything you need to know

That may well mean that there is a bright future in using FPGAs for ML. Today, however, things do not look that bright. In verification of McGregor’s statement, there does not seem to be a single ML library that supports FPGAs out of the box. There is work under way to make using FPGAs possible with TensorFlow, but precious little else besides that.

Things are different when it comes to data operations and analytics however. Recently Intel presented some of the partners it works with for FPGA-accelerated analytics. Swarm64 looks like the most interesting among them, promising immediate speedup of up to 12 times for PostgreSQL, MariaDB, and MySQL. Other options are rENIAC, offering what it says is a times-13 accelerated version of Cassandra, and Algo-Logic, with its custom key-value store.

Hard choices, in the cloud and on-premise

As usual, there is an array of hard choices to be made with emerging technology, and hardware is no exception. Should you build your own infrastructure, or use the cloud? Should you wait until offerings become more mature, or jump onboard now and reap the early adopter benefits? Should you go for GPUs, or FPGAs? And then, which GPU or FPGA vendor?

When discussing GPU databases with fellow ZDNet contributor and analyst Tony Baer, for example, Baer opined that none of them have a future on their own. That is because, according to Baer, the economics of GPUs are such that only cloud providers will be able to accumulate them at scale, therefore GPU database vendors will be eventual targets for acquisition by cloud-based databases.

Also: Taking the pulse of machine learning adoption

In fact, one such acquisition, that of Blazegraph by AWS, has already transpired. But while that does make sense, it’s not the only plausible scenario. If we’re talking about acquisitions, it’s entirely possible that GPU databases could be acquired by non-cloud database vendors who will want to bring such capabilities to their products.

It is also possible that some GPU database vendors will come into their own. GPU databases may seem less mature compared to incumbents now, but the same could be said for many NoSQL solutions 10 years ago. GPU databases seem like a tempting option for everyday operations and analytics, although the question remains as to whether the cost of replacing existing systems is outweighed by the gains in performance.

Swarm64 and rENIAC, on the other hand, are FPGA offerings that promise to leave your existing infrastructure as untouched as possible, especially in the case of Swarm64. Although their maturity remains an open question, the idea of “simply” adding hardware to your existing database and getting a much better performance out of it sounds promising.

As far as the GPU versus FPGA question is concerned, GPUs seem to have a wider and more mature ecosystem, but FPGAs offer superior flexibility. It has also been suggested that FPGAs may offer a better performance/consumption ratio, and that going forward GPUs may have trouble keeping up with low precision data types, as they would have to redesign extensively to support this.

hybridcloud.jpghybridcloud.jpg

Which one works best for you – GPUs or FPGAs? Cloud, or on premise?

ktsimage, Getty Images/iStockphoto

In terms of what GPU or FPGA vendor to choose, the options are intertwined with the cloud or on premise question. GPUs are on offer on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, all of which use Nvidia for their GPU-enabled instances. FPGAs, on the other hand, are on offer on AWS (EC2 F1 powered by Xilinx) and Azure (Project Brainwave powered by Intel), but not on Google Cloud.

AWS does not seem to provide ML-specific facilities for F1. Microsoft lets users deploy trained ML models, but there is not much information on how to train such models on FPGA-powered instances. Google, for its part, is throwing its weight behind its custom TPU chips.

For the million dollar question — should you go cloud or build your own infrastructure — the answer may be not that different from what applies in general: it depends.

If you use your infrastructure enough, perhaps it would make sense to invest in buying and installing, but for occasional use the cloud seems like a better fit. For other cases it might as well be mix-and-match.

And a special note: if you have a Hadoop cluster, it may make sense to add GPU or FPGA capabilities to it, as Hadoop has just been upgraded to support both options.

Of course, we have not covered all options — these are neither the only clouds, nor the only AI chips in town. This is a nascent area with many emerging players, and we will be revisiting it soon.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

4 reasons why anti-Trump Latino voters won’t swing the midterms

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