October 24, 2016

Tech Bytes - Daily Digest: October 24, 2016

Why measure the value of an organization's information, AI can predict outcome of human right trials but shoud it, Everything you ever wanted to know about mobile payments, Rethinking marketing strategy in a digital economy, Flexible data architectures to help drive business needs, Testing for vulnerable IoT devices and more.

Why Measure the Value of an Organization’s Information?

Notwithstanding the real difficulty of measuring the "value of information" so that it can take its deserved place on a company's balance sheet, Mancini's second difficulty is the crux of the problem. The "value" of information, like the value of the structured and unstructured data that underlies it, is dependent on how the information is used. Sometimes that usage is planned. Many times information usage is unplanned or serendipitous. Plus, data and information can be used to support decisions and actions with negative outcomes as well as positive outcomes. Even if we restrict our definition of "value" to economic value, we are still faced with the need to define what we mean by "information" and "data." The metrics associated with their use would have to be reliable and repeatable. 

Where to find the world's best programmers

While Chinese and Russian coders perform well across many of the fifteen domains for which HackerRank poses challenges, it’s also worth noting that coders from specific countries excel in specific domains: Japanese coders are the best for artificial intelligence and Hong Kong produces the best Python programmers, while the best Ruby programmers are in Finland and Denmark is tops for SQL programmers. There are other surprises too. The best database programmers are from Switzerland, Ukraine produces the best security coders, Sri Lanka is the strongest for distributed systems, and France is tops for C++. Let's consider first why China and Russia produce such a wide range of skilled programmers. "One hypothesis is the way education in those countries is focused," says Heraldo Memelli, HackerRank's lead technical content manager.

Dyn DDoS attack highlights vulnerability of global internet infrastructure

An attack on the DNS directory system that resolves domain names into numerical IP addresses is a source of concern given it is a fundamental part of the internet’s inner workings. It highlighted just how vulnerable the internet really is, said Thomas Fischer, threat researcher and global security advocate at Digital Guardian. “It places more onus on the internet infrastructure providers to ensure their security is top of the field, and that they plan for large-scale disaster recovery scenarios,” said Fischer. Chase Cunningham, networks director at Cyber Operations, said: “It was an interesting point to see the bad guys are moving upstream for DDoS attacks on the DNS providers, instead of just against sites or applications.”

Cloud Security, AI, IoT Make List Of Hot Technologies For 2017

The Nucleus analysts pointed to the AI systems in the new HBO TV series,Westworld, or the older TV science fiction series, Humans, as representing what many people now think AI systems are capable of, or will be soon. "In practice, AI is far from reaching its potential," they warn. Vendors who actually offer AI will have it connected to machine learning and some form of human interface, whether audio, visual, or natural language. Google's AI system won the game of Go in March, a parallel IBM's Watson beating human contestants in Jeopardy! The win gave a glimpse of how far powerful AI systems can go. But there's "still a significant gap" between portrayals in science fiction and AI's accomplishments in practical settings on the ground.

AI can predict outcome of human rights trials, but should it?

According to the researchers, the language and topics of the cases were the most important predictors for determining the judgment. "The 'circumstances' section of the text includes information about the factual background to the case. By combining the information extracted from the abstract 'topics' that the cases cover and 'circumstances' across data for all three articles, an accuracy of 79% was achieved," the press release stated. The study, however, just looks at the official, text-based court statements—not the arguments in court. Toby Walsh, AI professor at the University of New South Wales, said he is "unimpressed." The outcomes, he said, are going to be predicted based on the summary of the judgement. Furthermore, even if the judgment were ignored, "the summary is going to be inherently biased towards the decision, focusing on evidence and law that supports the decision."

Everything you ever wanted to know about mobile payments [Infographic]

The world of mobile payments is a rapidly evolving one, with new players, new locations and technologies coming up faster and faster. Take Apple Pay for example. The tech giant’s payment service has only been around for two years, but its nascent OS payments, which was only launched last month, purchases made in-app and on websites via what it’s calling ‘OS-Pay’ (operating system pay) platforms will hit $8bn annually by 2018. With such rapid progress made, it’s always good to take a moment and take a snapshot of the industry and see how exactly these mobile payments work and who uses them. The infographic below, from Oberthur Technologies, does just that.

Rethinking Market Strategy In A Digital Economy

The convergence of market-oriented behaviors and new market rules are asking senior executives to reframe their overall market strategies. Knowing full well that reframing market strategies are tied to answering the questions of where the next area of growth will come from and what path they need to take to achieve growth. ... Affecting the development of market strategy is a multitude of market forces. Primarily driven by digital transformation. Movement from hosted environments to the cloud, the SMB market enabled by digital technologies to be on equal footing with large enterprises in their customer service capabilities, increase in mobile technology as a key touchpoint, an increase in executive decision-makers who want hands-on and daily interaction with critical applications – in essence becoming important users, and addressing omnichannel engagement.

Are your marketing pros ready to handle big data?

"As a marketer, it's harder than ever to get a complete picture of your audience. Their interactions are siloed by walled gardens, multiple devices per person or platforms strategically locking users in. Each one of those channels requires a customized strategy," says Platzer. The best thing a marketer can do to get around such challenges is to keep up on the latest trends, according to Platzer. He recommends that all marketers educate themselves on the most popular channels people are using on a daily basis to access content from. It's also vital to have a finger on the pulse of what the next best app will be -- like when Twitter came on the scene and completely changed the way people share and interact.

Flexible Data Architectures to Help Drive Business Needs

Some software vendors have identified the need to drive data architectures from the business and have built this capability directly into their tools, allowing users to map data entities together more easily, integrate processes, develop customized views and dashboards, etc. However, many such tools currently on the market are performing this technique using rather old hat methods. One such method is to utilize Entity Relationship Diagrams. ERDs depict the logical structure of one’s data as it would be used in a relational database. Therein lies part of the current problem – the world is slowing moving away from using relational databases for everything. NoSQL databases are on the rise. Graph databases have been in existence for some time. Unstructured data sources that utilize text extraction or natural language processing revolve more around terms and their usage within a domain of interest.

Testing for vulnerable IoT devices

Poor security is standard practice with IoT, but these devices are especially bad. Even if their web interface is used to change the default password, the devices have hard coded Telnet and SSH passwords that can not be changed.  Part of yesterdays DDoS attack against DYN came from the Mirai botnet, composed of assorted hacked devices that were using default passwords. Unlike pretty much every other article on this subject, I am not going to quote a spokesperson from a security firm saying that things are really really bad. Instead, I have some hopefully useful advice, a way to test if devices in your home (or office or wherever) are vulnerable to software attacks similar to the Mirai malware. It's far from perfect, but it's a step in the right direction.

Quote for the day:

"Insulate yourself from those who bully, lie, or steal. Don't let their selfish values infect you." -- Chris Edmonds

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