Couchbase: No Equal
Couchbase is a powerful database platform combining the best of NoSQL systems with the power and familiarity of SQL, to simplify the transition from mainframe and relational databases into the cloud and to the edge.
Dealing with data
“The Couchbase Server is a sophisticated platform and our flagship product working alongside Couchbase Mobile for our edge offering,” explains Ravi Mayuram, SVP Engineering, CTO. “Our Kubernetes Autonomous Operator orchestrates cluster deployments in a programmable manner. The ambition is to convert a set of data-oriented technologies - for which enterprises previously had to use multiple-point solutions, hence complicating the landscape. We can help them navigate and simplify this data sprawl.”
Couchbase converges a suite of NoSQL capabilities across one platform to simplify development and deployment. “The performance caching capability of our database is combined with our SQL-like query language; N1QL offers unparalleled flexibility along with search and analytics stitched together with an eventing system supporting fast transactional workloads,” says Mayuram. “That same data can be transported with equivalent functionality at the edge via our mobile product. Converging multiple technology stacks into a single platform allows application developers to carry out many tasks in one place, thereby accelerating forward development.”
Modernising your stack
Couchbase are ideologically aligned with key partners like Bell Canada; both are keen to promote a philosophy of operational data visibility. “Our platform brings data from the edge to near real time in the cloud; from here analytical logic, via AI and ML technologies, can be applied for key insights,” says Mayuram of the capability to use data from anywhere to feed into available intelligence.
Performance at scale
“One of the biggest advantages of Couchbase is its performance at scale,” maintains Mayuram. “We are built for the next generation of scaling that will happen. A platform that can withstand the growing demand from a volume and variety of data in a new order of magnitude. Data growth is exponential - be it from the edge IoT devices, machines generating data, or spamming and anomaly detection. These are all based on the volume of data that's actually flowing through in real time - something Couchbase is primed to handle.
A platform for the future
2021 will see some major releases coming along with Couchbase Server, Mobile and the Autonomous Operator. “We want to make our platform even more cost effective and simpler for developers to run their microservices on,” says Mayuram. “The new microservice paradigm developers are using puts a different type of demand on Couchbase, so we're building certain functionalities to make a multi-tenancy of microservices on Couchbase really easy to adopt. This will enable developers to stand up multiple hundreds of microservices on one Couchbase instance, giving them the power to innovate faster.”
On the mobile side, Couchbase is focusing on management and security alongside scale and performance, “We want to enhance security, all the way from encryption to identity management at the edge, so that the data is always secure,” pledges Mayuram.
Meanwhile, the Kubernetes-powered Couchbase Autonomous Operator has the ability to run elastically on-premise, hybrid or in the cloud, allowing systems to be scaled based on workload and automate operations. “We want to make that happen in a programmatic way, so that you can simply scale based on the system resources that are being consumed,” reveals Mayuram. “This adds further control to the DevOps process bringing the database into a CI/CD pipeline to automate software delivery.”
Awards & Testimonials
CRN 2020 Products of the Year - Big Data: Revenue & Profit
Deloitte 2020 - Technology Fast 500
Tech Ascension 2020 - Cloud Innovation of the Year
“We were interested in augmenting our data ecosystem with a distributed database that can address a variety of use cases especially for transactional workloads. As we move towards more real time workflows, a data solution supporting fast transactional workloads is critical. Couchbase is successfully providing us the solution for such workloads. Couchbase is now the backend for multiple realtime transactional applications.” George Iskendarian, Director, Big Data & AI, Bell Inc (Canada)
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.