Daily Tech Digest - April 07, 2017

Why artificial intelligence still needs a human touch

If AI is currently struggling to discern facts from fiction, could it be that human intelligence is still a necessary component for the continued successful integration of AI? In a much simpler time, Google was a search engine that indexed websites. Today, the search giant is evolving towards giving users summarised answers to their billions of questions. Type in a word and you’ll get the definition. Type in a name and you’ll get a short biography. Type in a question and roughly one in five times, Google will generate a specific answer. This evolution of Google Search into something one could call Google “Q&A” goes hand in hand with the rapid evolution away from typed search towards AI-powered voice assistants.

Trust issues: Know the limits of SSL certificates

There are many reasons a domain owner may decide to obtain a TLS/SSL certificate, but the most common one is to give users a way to verify that the site is authentic and the owner is legitimate. Another reason is that—in this day of rampant surveillance, tracking, and eavesdropping—there is growing interest in encrypting all traffic moving from the user’s computer or mobile device and the web server hosting the application. These are two distinct reasons for getting certificates, but both rely on HTTPS. That HTTPS reliance has made it easy for domain owners and internet users to conflate the two, causing further confusion beyond the trust issues, said Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of web security company High-Tech Bridge. “We should separate the HTTP traffic encryption and website identity verification questions.

How IBM wants to use Watson to speed up IT help desk support

The solution will be offered at a set price, the release noted, and will help personalize the helpdesk experience for all employees, even those who are more tech-savvy. The new service will also be able to support a mobile-centric IT environment as well. Users can chat with Watson thanks to its natural language processing capabilities, and the helpdesk service will suggest solutions based on previous experiences. The more interactions that the Watson service has and learns from, the better it will understand common IT problems, the release said. However, if it encounters a new problem that it doesn't have a solution for, the user will be transferred to a human support agent. The new service is always on, and will be available to employees at all times. And the automation that is built into it can take actions on behalf of the customers, like "adding additional storage to an email account, unlocking a password, ordering of a new phone etc.," the release said.

How Big Data is Becoming Smaller Than Small Data

Owners of e-commerce companies are often unaware that they are using Big Data. The owner of an online boutique, for example, could look at her premium Google Analytics reports and order her webmaster to make certain changes beneficial to visitors and conducive to more sales. Unless this boutique is getting millions of visitors each day, the owner made a decision based on small data; however, the recommendation came from Big Data. Business solutions such as Google Analytics essentially turn Big Data into small data. The results are easy to interpret so that actionable decisions can be made, and this is very important for e-commerce operators. An example of an e-commerce website that makes good decisions based on small data is SNI’s pharmaceutical sales training, which has been carefully designed after looking at "heat maps" that show how visitors behave when they browse each page and where they are more likely to click.

10 Fun Tech Ads Through the Years

It's rare for us to spend an hour-long staff meeting in nonstop laughter. But that's pretty much what happened when we gathered to go through old print issues of Computerworld as part of our 40th anniversary celebration. The original idea of hauling those Computerworld issues out of storage was to look at important stories we've covered. But we couldn't get over the ads! "80 Mbytes of storage for less than $12,000!" boasts one. In another, a woman in hot pants touts a modem that's, yes, "maybe even sexy." There's even a campy B movie celebrity hawking development software. It was too much fun not to share. So after one of the best meetings ever, we bring you 10 of our favorite, most entertaining IT ads from Computerworld throughout the years.

Wish list: What I’d like to see in the new Mac Pro

A lot of Mac Pro users rely on external storage, but you also need enough internal storage. The current Mac Pro includes 256GB of flash storage, and for content developers, that’s too small. At least 1TB is ideal, but it’s expensive. 512GB, while probably on the small side, is a good cost/capacity compromise. You can upgrade the current cylindrical Mac Pro with a third-party SSD, like one offered by OWC. But the installation involves more than simply disconnecting and removing the old drive and connecting and placing the new one. A new tower case could make it really easy to perform a storage upgrade. Also revealed during Apple’s Mac Pro briefing: The company is working on a pro display. No details were offered on the display, but Apple worked with LG on the UltraFine 5K Display, which can lead you into the direction Apple will probably take with its pro display.

People Are Paying to Work From Bars and Restaurants

Co-working spaces, where people rent desks and offices alongside other freelance or satellite workers, have become a global sensation, led by WeWork Cos. The New York-based company was valued at more than $17 billion last month after an investment from SoftBank Group Corp. WeWork provides members with free snacks and access to in-office beer kegs. It has 162 office locations in 41 cities around the world. WeWork’s hometown is one of the world’s co-working capitals. Commercial real estate devoted to co-working in New York City has grown fivefold in the past five years, according to Jonathan Mazur, managing director at real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. The city, with its high concentration of restaurants and bars, offers plenty of options for Spacious and its rivals, such as WorkEatPlay and KettleSpace.

Keeping the enterprise secure in the age of mass encryption

Businesses urgently need to improve their management of encrypted tunnels, or they risk compromising the effectiveness of our cyber security defences. But for that to happen, organisations must first gain visibility and control over their expansive estates of digital keys and certificates. These keys and certificates are the cryptographic assets that form the foundation of encryption, allowing machines to identify each other in the same way usernames and passwords work for human users. ... The growth of HTTPS is both a positive and negative thing. Encryption is the primary tool used to keep internet transactions out of the reach of prying eyes, and we’ve seen increased adoption over the past few years, partly driven by revelations of mass state surveillance exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

2017 State of Testing Report

Testers’ ability to dissect products built on AI or VR would give them great benefit for designing more and more test ideas. I would personally try applying a variety of heuristics that I know (SFDIPOT, I SLICED UP FUN, FCC CUTS VIDS, Huh? Really? So? Etc.) in order to understand the product better. To keep up with such fascinating developments, I would recommend practicing critical thinking and develop a deeper understanding of the man-machine relationship. ... A piece of advice that I think is extremely important for people, specially for testers starting to work on something new such as VR and AI, is to work as a user with these things. “Get your hands dirty” and experience first hand what your users will be doing with the products you are testing. This first hand experience will be second to none when approaching your projects and looking for those important bugs that represent the behavior of your users in the real world.

Google's defense in depth

Google is a firm believer of defense in depth when it comes to security. This much is evident from the physical security of its data centers, where multiple layers of checks ensure that only authorized personnel can step into the highly-secured facilities. Only employees that are on a preauthorized list, consisting of a very small fraction of all Google employees, are allowed through the gates of a Google data center. Much like a typical data center, a second check is required before one can enter the building. Finally, stepping into the secure corridor leading into the data center hall necessitates clearing a biometric scan such as an iris scan, said Joe Kava, vice president of Google’s data center operations in a 2014 video. Inside, the data center is segregated for security, with the most secure areas protected by laser-based underfloor intrusion detection systems.

Quote for the day:

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." -- Walt Disney

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