Daily Tech Digest - November 15, 2016

Transparent machine learning: How to create 'clear-box' AI

OptimizingMind's brain-based algorithm is meant to let developers "peer inside of their networks, understand what they are doing, and easily edit them without retraining from the beginning," said Achler. It allows for "one-shot" learning, through which a neural network can be taught on the spot. For example: Siri could be told the definition for a word, which would then be stored. Today, neutral networks can't do that—they need to be trained to incorporate new things, learning using thousands of examples. So what does "clear-box" mean? According to Achler, it provides a way to view decision-making in real-time. "It can access weights, features and nodes, providing flexibility to read them as well as change them. Ultimately this enables understanding of how the neural network is arriving to a decision," he said.

DOS Technique Lets A Single Laptop Take Down An Enterprise Firewall

According to experts from the Security Operations Center of the Danish telecom operator TDC, it would take from 40,000 to 50,000 ICMP Type 3 Code 3 packets a second to overload a firewall. This is not a large number of packets and the bandwidth required to generate them is 15Mbps to 18Mbps, which means that BlackNurse attacks can be launched from a single laptop. "The impact we see on different firewalls is typically high CPU loads," the TDC Security Operations Center (SOC) said in a technical report. "When an attack is ongoing, users from the LAN side will no longer be able to send/receive traffic to/from the Internet. All firewalls we have seen recover when the attack stops."

Major Linux security hole gapes open

The root of this root problem is in the /scripts/local-top/cryptroot file. Once you've gone past the maximum number of trials for transient hardware faults, 30 on x86 architectures, you gain root-level access. This is an example of how open source fails. Just like the OpenSSL Heartbleed security hole, once you look at the code, the problem leaps out at you. But, if you don't look, it just hides there in plain sight. Open-source security only works if you actually read the code. What's even more annoying, this only works if you've encrypted your system partition. Yes, by doing the smart thing of using encryption, you've actually opened the door to this attack. Fun! You can't use this to break into users' encrypted partitions. Of course, you can still wreck them.

Google taps into your life to personalize its streaming music

"This is smart, using an established Google strength in machine learning to help buttress a potentially important product, Google Play Music," he said. "Actually, predicting what people will like is important and difficult. Everybody, from Amazon to Netflix to all the content-creators in the universe, works hard on this problem. I think Google's new machine learning approach will slightly improve their suggestions..." For Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, machine learning is going to be the "next big thing" because it enables service providers to be predictive. "I think [Google is] slightly ahead of the curve in that they're factoring in time of day, location, etc.," he said. "It would be interesting to see where they go next, like who is in the room with you. Will the music change depending on whether your kids are home?"

Should the Manager be in the Ideation Meeting? 

Hand over the meeting to an external facilitator. It is hard for the manager to change from their normal management persona into a creative cheerleader. It is much easier for a facilitator to get people to think and act differently. Bring in someone from an entirely different function or business and tell them the outcomes you want e.g. we want to find three new ways to cut waiting times and improve customer service. Then let them run the meeting and you take a back seat. ... Leave the room. I facilitated a brainstorm meeting for a marine engineering company. We started by discussing some of the key challenges and the broad types of solution we needed. The Managing Director then left the room. He was a very intelligent, forceful and dynamic character.

Q&A with Jason Bock: Testing Tips, Advice and Insights

Finding a bug or a painful interaction with an API when you're running tests locally on a developer's machine takes less time to resolve than it would if it was discovered in production. That's even quicker than having the QA team finding these issues (assuming a project has QA involved). ... For teams that haven't written tests before, they sometimes don't treat test code like application code. Their tests end up being hundreds and hundreds of lines of code with no clear focus. As a result, those tests are hard to maintain, take a while to finish, and can be frustrating the developer team. They may even abandon their unit tests. Therefore, my advice for teams not familiar with writing unit tests is treat them with the same love and discipline they take with their application code.

Microsoft has found a way to bring human language intelligence to our dumb computers

The Microsoft Concept Graph is a massive graph of more than 5.4 million concepts derived from machine-learning algorithms and billions of web pages and anonymized search queries. The idea is a major component of ongoing efforts to computationally simulate human thinking. If a computer can understand the concept behind a word, it can then understand the context surrounding the use of the word. So a computer can stop taking everything we say literally and instead start understanding and anticipating what we actually mean. One of the practical concepts the researchers mentioned was keyword advertising. It would be helpful for all concerned if the keyword advertising you see when you are web browsing were more pertinent and a lot less ham-fisted.

C3 IoT: Is Tom Siebel's Startup An Emerging Powerhouse?

C3 came to the industrial internet by way of instrumenting and analyzing data from gas and electric utilities. Pacific Gas & Electric is one of its customers, along with the New Orleans giant Entergy. The young C3 Energy struck pay dirt in Europe, where it signed up Enel (National Entity for Electricity) in Rome, running utilities in Italy and Spain, as well as Engie in Courbevoie, France. With those two customers, it installed "the largest set of IoT production applications on earth," Siebel said. "More than 80% of European smart meters are under management by the C3 IoT platform," said market research firm Harbor Research, which issued a report on C3 and the IoT market in July.

Responding to a Data Breach Starts at the Top

The first thing every leader should remember is that a data breach can happen to anyone. As globalization continues, breaches are becoming an even greater problem. Target, LivingSocial, Facebook, and other prominent companies have been the victims of clever cybercrime. It’s easy to think that a data breach is the kind of thing that happens to other companies—until it happens to you. No security system is completely un-hackable, and every company needs to have a breach response plan in addition to solid cybersecurity. Members of the team should know how to spot signs of an attack—and take that information to leadership immediately. Good leadership during a crisis like a data breach is key to preserving morale and helping the company move past the incident.

Thousands of low-priced Android phones are reportedly sending user data to China

A newly-discovered piece of software running in an unknown number of Android phones is reportedly sending a variety of private user information directly to Chinese servers every 72 hours. The software, created by a Chinese firm named Shanghai Adups Technology Company, is said to be in hundreds of millions of devices - it's not clear how many of those devices are in the US, or how many users are affected. The news comes from a report Tuesday morning in the New York Times - a security firm named Kryptowire identified the malicious software, and said it does more than just archive/collect your text messages (though it also does that). Apparently the software collects "the full contents of text messages, contact lists, call logs, location information and other data," and then sends that data to a Chinese server.

Quote for the day:

"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?" -- Abraham Lincoln