Daily Tech Digest - June 10, 2017

How serverless changes application development

When viewed through the prism of the Rogers Innovation Adoption Curve, serverless is still a young market, most likely at the beginning of its early adopter phase. But it has some big players behind it (that a traditional IT decision maker wouldn’t get fired for betting on), a healthy number of open source alternatives, and the beginnings of a market for startups providing complimentary tooling. One intriguing aspect of serverless is its potential to turn the notion of vendor lock-in on its head. Suppose you really like Amazon Polly for voice-to-text but you prefer IBM Watson for text sentiment analysis. Your front-end application could record spoken words, send the recording to a Polly function on AWS, and send the resulting text to Watson. So instead of being locked into a single vendor or ecosystem, you can embrace finding exactly the right tool for the specific job. 

HR 2.0: how technology is transforming HR

We are social beings and our workplaces are small societies, so it’s no surprise that social media and technology is having an influence on the corporate environment. The growth of social media shows the appeal of human connections, but that need was hardwired into humans long before Facebook. From swapping stories around the campfire 10,000 years ago to sharing pictures on Instagram, our biological need to bond and share may change expression, but it remains vital to who we are. Businesses are subsequently increasingly using habits of instant messaging, cloud-based document sharing and quick feedback to meet these growing expectations. Until the advent of timelines on social media, social sharing was an ephemeral phenomenon. Now, people expect to relive social sharing over time by looking back at a record of messages, pictures, and videos they’ve shared.

One Day, a Machine Will Smell Whether You’re Sick

“We send all the signals to a computer, and it will translate the odor into a signature that connects it to the disease we exposed to it,” Mr. Haick said. With artificial intelligence, he said, the machine becomes better at diagnosing with each exposure. Rather than detecting specific molecules that suggest disease, however, Mr. Haick’s machine sniffs out the overall chemical stew that makes up an odor. It’s analogous to smelling an orange: Your brain doesn’t distinguish among the chemicals that make up that odor. Instead, you smell the totality, and your brain recognizes all of it as an orange. Mr. Haick and his colleagues published a paper in ACS Nano last December showing that his artificially intelligent nanoarray could distinguish among 17 different diseases with up to 86 percent accuracy.

IoT skills set to rise in importance

“IoT training is about coding plus communication. On its own, coding will allow an engineer to give a device some functionality and behave in a certain way. But the IoT is based on the idea that the ‘things’ are able to effectively communicate with one another and exchange data. To make an IoT specialist, they would need to be educated about wireless communications technologies and networking as well as coding,” he says. “ABI Research predicts that 48bn devices will be connected to the internet by 2021, 30% of which will be Bluetooth devices, so knowledge of this most pervasive of low power wireless communications technologies is key In addition, for some people currently working in IT, it means more education is needed about embedded software engineering, as they may find themselves working with smaller, more constrained devices than they ever have before.”

The dangers of hacking back

Attribution is not only a technical problem, but a geopolitical one too, which could be extremely asymmetric in favor of the attackers. ... Moreover, cyber attacks are just one form of digital response that these groups could use in response to a hack back. As we saw last year, cyber attacks can be very successful when part of a larger information campaign that includes disinformation, automated social bots, as well as data theft, dump, and manipulation. When a company hacks back, even if they’ve accurately attributed the source of the attack, they risk triggering retaliation not just from cyber warriors but also trolls, which can inflict widescale brand, reputational, financial, and even physical damage. And that doesn’t even touch upon potential responses outside of the cyber domain, such as targeted economic punishment or escalation of interstate tensions.

PayPal CEO offers sobering view of cybersecurity threats

“History is not on our side,” he added. “because of what’s happening in technology, 40 percent of businesses will go out of business within the next five years.” That’s particularly sobering for credit unions, where the number of institutions nationally has shrunk by 32 percent in the last decade (and shrunk by 35 percent in Michigan during that period), according to statistics offered by Michigan CU League CEO Dave Adams. In order to survive, said Schulman, institutions – particularly financial institutions – must be willing to change their business models and adapt to how consumers do business. “There is going to be more change in financial services in the next five to seven years than occurred in the last 30 or 50 years,” he predicted, noting that basic financial transactions can be done via mobile device for as much as 80 percent cheaper than using existing branch infrastructure.

Executive interview: Brian Kelly, chief security officer, Rackspace

During an attack, he says, there is often an “A team” and “B team” of hackers. “The B team do the reconnaissance. They are noisy and sloppy. They are trying to map the network. Then there is a pause and, within an hour, the A team come in to arm-wrestle with you.” Some organisations tempt hackers in with a honeypot, to catch them trying to break into a network. For Kelly, a reasonable strategy to thwart at attack is to tie up the B team, possibly leaving a few “cookies” for them to steal, and lead them to a place on the corporate network where their activities can easily be monitored and the security team can learn about the attack vectors being tried. But fighting a determined A team hacker is tough and the IT security tools that the security teams rely on will start to fail, warns Kelly. “How adaptive are the tools, given that the attack can change within eight, 10, 12 or 15 minutes?” he says.

How to Apply Machine Learning to Event Processing

On top of stream processing or complex-event processing in general, you often need a human to make the final decision. Think about predictive maintenance where replacing a part might costs thousands of dollars. However, the analytic model of the data scientist just offers you a specific probability if the machine will break. A human can take a deeper look in both, live and historical data, to decide if a part will be replaced or not. A live visualization pushes events in real time to a user interface (e.g. desktop, web browser or mobile device). The operations team can live-monitor systems and see exceptions or errors when or even before they occur (using the analytic models). Thus, they can do proactive actions – e.g. stop a machine or send a mechanic.

How artificial intelligence will transform financial services

With payment fully digitalized, financial services institutions have integrated into the cashless ecosystem, supporting consumers that pay with their digital wallets, smartphones or digital currencies for everyday transactions. In the age of hyper-connectedness, payment transactions are now fully transparent, empowering customers with friction-free payments and checkout procedures. Having embraced digital payment channels, customers view payment processes as a background activity seamlessly done via mobile devices agnostic to technology platforms whether it’s contactless NFC (Apple Pay), wearables, Smart TV or distributed blockchain ledgers. Having built payment platforms that are interoperable, cost efficient, and secure, financial institutions are now razor focused on competing for a seamless customer experience and racing towards greater financial inclusion to attract the larger un-banked and uninsured market share.

CFO or CEO: To whom should IT report?

CIOs must justify IT investments with tangible productivity gains that may not always be substantiated by pure financial means, according to Vinit Kholi of Sibcy Cline Realtors. He points to cloud services and Microsoft Office 365 as examples.  “Companies have to clearly define their need and then follow up to ensure tools that impact the whole organization are implemented in a way that adds value for the users. Budgetary discussions become incidental if the business case is strongly presented,” Kholi said. Companies that opt to only replace technology when it breaks will go the way of Kodak, Blockbuster and Radio Shack. Today’s midmarket IT leaders’ primary functions include protecting company data and empowering employees with technology to get their jobs done.

Quote for the day:

"If you don_t find a leader, perhaps it is because you were meant to lead." -- Glenn Beck

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