Daily Tech Digest - December 05, 2017

Google Has Released an AI Tool That Makes Sense of Your Genome

DeepVariant was developed by researchers from the Google Brain team, a group that focuses on developing and applying AI techniques, and Verily, another Alphabet subsidiary that is focused on the life sciences. The team collected millions of high-throughput reads and fully sequenced genomes from the Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) project, a public-private effort to promote genomic sequencing tools and techniques. They fed the data to a deep-learning system and painstakingly tweaked the parameters of the model until it learned to interpret sequenced data with a high level of accuracy. Last year, DeepVariant won first place in the PrecisionFDA Truth Challenge, a contest run by the FDA to promote more accurate genetic sequencing. “The success of DeepVariant is important because it demonstrates that in genomics, deep learning can be used to automatically train systems that perform better than complicated hand-engineered systems,” says Brendan Frey, CEO of Deep Genomics.

Using AI for Real Intelligence

AI is clearly moving from the scientific and theoretical to the practical. "One interesting stat shows 75 percent of companies looking to implement AI or machine learning (ML)," said Stubbs. ... Microsoft is working on an AI platform that consists of services like Microsoft Cognitive Services, Bot Framework, Azure Machine Learning, and the Cognitive Toolkit. The company has more than 7,000 engineers working on this, and all product groups have been encouraged to incorporate AI capabilities. "We have previously talked about a mobile-first and cloud-first model, but that's really more about mobility of the experience than the device," Stubbs said. "With agents and bots and AR and VR, we are expanding the definition of how we think of this. It leads us to the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge models -- the idea that devices at the edge powered by the cloud are able to expand that experience. AI happens in a bunch of places; it doesn't just happen in the cloud."

2018 Goal: Re-position Cybersecurity As An Enabler

As long as cybersecurity is viewed as a pain, it’ll never be integrated into the fabric of an organization. Fortunately, there have been significant advances in cloud-based security services that enable new ways to embed cybersecurity into enterprise services people want. Ever wonder why dentists re-positioned themselves as teeth whitening experts? Answer: no one likes cavities and, by association, the people who fix them. Similarly, as long as cybersecurity is viewed as a pain, it will never gain widespread organizational support. Fortunately, there have been significant advances in cloud-based data encryption, endpoint trust analysis and access control that enable security controls to be integrated into the application workflow. Here are a few enterprise service ideas that will make you a hero in 2018

New Security Architecture Practitioner's Initiative

The Security Architecture Practitioner’s Initiative is a joint effort of The Open Group Security Forum and The SABSA Institute to articulate in a clear, approachable way the characteristics of a highly-qualified Security Architect. The focus of this initiative is on the practitioner, the person who fills the role of the Security Architect, and on the skills and experience that make them great. This project is not about security architecture as a discipline, nor about a methodology for security architecture but rather about people and what makes them great Security Architects. The project team consists of pioneering Security Architects drawn from both The Open Group Security Forum and The SABSA Institute who have between them many decades of security architecture experience at organizations such as Boeing, IBM, HP, and NASA. Operating under the auspices of The Open Group and in collaboration with The SABSA Institute, they will provide two core deliverables

5 Key Data Predictions For 2018

As data becomes self-aware and even more diverse than it is today, the metadata will make it possible for the data to proactively transport, categorize, analyze and protect itself. The flow between data, applications and storage elements will be mapped in real time as the data delivers the exact information a user needs at the exact time they need it. This also introduces the ability for data to self-govern. The data itself will determine who has the right to access, share and use it, which could have wider implications for external data protection, privacy, governance and sovereignty. ... A judge or insurance company may need it to determine liability, while an auto manufacturer may want it to optimize the performance of the brakes or other mechanical systems. When data is self-aware, it can be tagged so it controls who sees what parts of it and when, without additional time consuming and potentially error prone human intervention to subdivide, approve and disseminate the valuable data.

Businesses need to balance user experience, privacy and security

“Consent is a key aspect of the GDPR, and organisations need to ensure that consent is freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous,” he said. “They need to be clear about what they are collecting, what purpose they are collecting the data, and they must provide processes for consumers to withdraw consent if they wish.” However, done correctly, collecting and managing consumer information can improve the customer experience, said John Tolbert, lead analyst at KuppingerCole. “Consumer identity management can also enable new business models, such as freemium models where basic services are provided free with the option of upgrading to paid services or shared revenue models,” he said. Tolbert also emphasised the importance of making it clear to consumers what they will get in exchange for agreeing to allow businesses to collect and user their data.

Uwe Friedrichsen on Functional Service Design and Observability

Developers should familiarise themselves with fault tolerant design patterns, such as circuit breakers, bulkheads, timeouts and retries, which has been popularised by Michael Nygard’s “Release It!” book. Caching, although useful, should be deployed with care, and not used simply to overcome bad system design, such as a long activation path involving many dependent services. Friedrichsen presented a series of ‘foundations of design’ for microservices (pictured below), which included a series of design principles focusing on high cohesion, low coupling, and separation of concerns. This principles are especially crucial across system boundaries, and even though the theory has been well documented in the 70s by David Parnas (PDF link), it is still often misunderstood.

8 digital transformation resolutions for CIOs in 2018

CIOs can help by taking the lead in creating a company-wide digital transformation plan that goes beyond digitizing documents and looks at ways operations can be digitized and automated for faster, leaner performance. The plan should include which digital technologies you plan to implement, dates for implementation, specific levels of investment, and business values they'll deliver. The plan should be spread over a period of three to five years, and should be reviewed and revised with input from C-level executives, key business influencers and senior IT staff at least annually. Project priorities should be defined and agreed upon so that everyone understands which project gets worked on first. Too many projects going at once start to interfere with each other. They contend for resources and ultimately fail. The CIO can play a major role to prevent this disorganization from happening.

Big banks hope early bet on Alexa will pay off

Amazon Echo Spot devices sit on display during the company's product reveal launch event in downtown Seattle in September.
Whether Alexa banking becomes a staple still remains to be seen, but banks with skills are keen to follow and find out, and regardless, it exposes them to the bigger picture of connected devices. Since September, U.S. Bank has let customers check their balances and make payments to U.S. Bank credit cards, among other things, speaking to Alexa. So far, the bank has deemed the launch as successful. “Customers who are using it seem to really like it,” said Gareth Gaston, head of omnichannel banking at U.S. Bank. While the bank isn’t disclosing usage numbers, he said people who ask Alexa a question tend to ask a follow-up question. Already, Gaston said, U.S. Bank plans to launch on Siri and Google Home and he can see a day where the lines will blur between talking to Alexa or a call center — especially when voice-based authentication on the devices exist. “I think this is the very, very tip of the iceberg that we are seeing,” he said.

Security: Making yourself a hard target for hackers is easier than you think

Strong passwords, two factor authentication, antivirus, and backups are just some of the simple things users can employ to protect themselves from cyberattacks -- yet breaches and malware infections show that some of the most basic advice is often not followed. "We pretend this is the most complicated thing in the world, and yet strong passwords, backing up your data, updating your security software -- security isn't that difficult," said Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee. The UK's National Health Service was one of the most high-profile victims of May's global WannaCry ransomware virus outbreak, with a proportion of hospitals taken offline -- some of which didn't have systems restored for weeks. An investigation following the incident found that NHS trusts had been warned to apply critical patches to prevent systems being exposed to the EternalBlue Windows vulnerability which WannaCry used, but that many failed to do so. 

Quote for the day:

"Great achievers are driven, not so much by the pursuit of success, but by the fear of failure." -- Larry Ellison