The Revenue Assurance Books Written by Computers

Would you spend USD995 to buy a 301-page report entitled “The 2021-2026 World Outlook for Revenue Assurance”? Probably not. Perhaps you would purchase the companion reports, on Global Revenue Assurance Software and Global Revenue Assurance Services? No, neither would I. But I would be wondering what is included in the first report if you have to buy two more reports to learn about RA software and services. It is safe to assume you will not buy these expensive books, but you might think they were genuine because their titles sound authentic, because you can purchase them from Amazon, and because they are the sequels to older reports. The author also has a title that sounds genuine; would you suspect that Philip M. Parker, PhD might not actually be an expert on revenue assurance? Commsrisk readers are smart enough to assess Dr. Parker’s expertise by looking at what else he has published, including…

  • The 2021-2026 World Outlook for Laundry Detergents and Enhancers;
  • The 2021-2026 World Outlook for Mexican Wet Sauces; and
  • The 2021-2026 World Outlook for Men’s and Boys’ Felt Hats Excluding Wool Hats.

By now you may have noticed a pattern. The list of books sold by Philip M. Parker, PhD includes the 2021-2026 World Outlook for…

  • …Natural Fromage Frais
  • …Medical and Surgical Catheters
  • …Snowboarding Boots for Step-in Bindings
  • …New Stationary Reciprocating Gas Compressors with at Least 1,001 Hp Excluding Integral Engine Gas Compressors
  • …Mouthwash
  • …Manufactured Mobile Homes of 11 Feet 11 Inches or Less in Width
  • …Bathroom Toilet Brushes and Holders

You can see what is wrong with this pattern from a mile away, even without the help of machine learning. So why is Parker allowed to get away with this?

One problem with Philip M. Parker, PhD is that he is a real person, with a real doctorate. Parker’s biography on the INSEAD website states he is a Professor of Marketing and…

…the INSEAD Chaired Professor of Management Science. Before joining INSEAD, he was a Professor of International Strategy and Economics at the University of California, San Diego. He has taught at Harvard University, MIT, Stanford University, and UCLA, and delivered courses in various countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, North America, and Europe. He has degrees in Finance and Economics, and a PhD from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

So why has this man written 200,000 books on topics he knows nothing about? A human editor at Wikipedia helpfully explains that Parker has…

…patented a method to automatically produce a set of similar books from a template which is filled with data from database and Internet searches.

In other words, this high-self-worth academic has obtained the intellectual property rights for an automated method that takes and recycles content which is not protected by intellectual property rights. He uses this to charge naive people USD995 for the results! It neither occurs to Parker, nor his academic supporters, that a report-writing algorithm that recycles data taken from the web is likely to suffer from the syndrome of garbage in, garbage out. And nobody should pay USD995 for garbage. The implausible justification for this blatant profiteering at the expense of the unwary is that…

Utilising the automated authoring processes which he pioneered, his international business publications have funded a variety of multilingual educational materials

Hmmm. Do these ‘educational’ materials also rely upon reformatting text copied from the web without any effort made to check facts or verify sources?

The serious point is that Amazon is seemingly incapable of identifying what is wrong with all these reports, or lacks the courage to do anything about them. Instead of using their data expertise and powerful algorithms to spot profiteering abuse and to remove it from their marketplace, they are happy to take a cut of this charlatan’s revenues.

Businesses keep talking about using automation to identify patterns indicative of fraudulent and anti-social behavior. The reality is that other businesspeople are successfully automating the process of abusing the foolish. Some of those businessmen are legitimate only in the sense that they exploit people without breaking the law, whilst others are outright criminals. This is why we will always need human professionals to oversee the work done by machines, and those professionals need to follow an ethical code that demands information be used responsibly, and not just for the greatest financial gain.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.