Daily Tech Digest - April 01, 2018

Roubini States That Blockchain Is Pure Hype

Roubini States That Blockchain Is Pure Hype
To begin with, blockchain technology is less efficient than existing databases. When someone says that their project is working on blockchain, in reality, as a rule, the operation of a program reproduced on a variety of other devices is implied. In this case, the storage space requirements and processing power are much higher, and the transaction speed is much lower than when using a centralized program. Blockchain with the technologies of proof-of-stake or zero-knowledge require that all transactions be verified cryptographically, and this slows down their work. A blockchain with the technologies of proof-of-work, used in many popular cryptocurrencies, raises another problem as they require huge amounts of energy to ensure their work. That is why operations for the mining of Bitcoins in Iceland this year already can begin to consume more electricity than all Icelandic households put together. Blockchain can make sense only in cases where the exchange of speed for the quality of verification is really needed, but this technology is rarely promoted in this capacity.

Blockchain will make AI smarter by feeding it better data

The current challenge to smaller businesses isn’t the cost of AI systems — they’re increasingly more affordable and accessible. The barrier is gaining access to enough high quality data about customers to adequately power those systems. Few retailers can recognize their customers across multiple channels and devices, and they often rely on third-party, behavioral data that doesn’t give them a complete understanding of what products customers want to buy. Moreover, most retailers handle only a small slice of each of their customer’s purchases, hardly enough to make these AI systems work well. That’s why blockchain technology is so transformative. Its key innovation is to create a database that is open and decentralized, yet with strict controls over privacy. Shoppers could authorize all the stores they patronize to contribute data about their purchases to a blockchain ledger that protects the privacy of both consumers and retailers.

Dividing frontend from backend is an antipattern

Contemporary frontend work has evolved in complexity to the extent that we should no longer separate frontend from backend roles. Frontend engineers now solve the same kinds of problems as their backend counterparts, using the same kinds of solutions, and it is harmful to continue arbitrarily dividing us. To be clear, I’m not saying that we all need to be experts in everything. That would be impossible. Today’s technology stack goes down a long way, so being a genuinely balanced full-stack dev is probably not the most realistic of goals — but staying open-minded is. While it is perfectly valid to dislike a particular technology, such as CSS, the industry's culture of contempt for frontend work feeds into the outdated divide between frontend and backend, and detracts from building fast-moving, competitive teams and companies. Think of yourself as a developer first. Investigate frontend technologies, pair with UI specialists, evangelize your colleagues.

Man vs machine: How each responds to deception defenses

Russian hackers are targeting a number of political organizations.
If you use the same password for multiple systems, this analysis shows you should avoid this practice. Migrate to unique long pass phrases with less rotation and always consider multi-factor authentication when available. In general, human attackers are attracted to files that may contain configuration instructions for an application with a username and password for a specific individual or a shared account. Another popular file example is technical documents such as those providing information on how to use a corporate VPN service. Personal files with confidential information, IT/Corporate files, logs, databases, and reviewing recent files for Windows or Office are popular with human attackers and make good breadcrumbs and traps. Poisoned data within files including fake, planted credentials provides a valuable lure to detect attackers as they reuse them. On the other hand, malware due to its machine automation prefers structured data found in applications. Examples include session apps, web browsers, and uninstall information for applications.

Big Blue Is Finally Getting Serious About Cryptocurrency

Lund breaks down the demand IBM is seeing into three main kinds of tokens: securities tokens that give owners a stake in the issuing company, utility tokens that give users access to a service such as phone minutes and commodities tokens that represent precious metals and other physical assets. "We're actually seeing a move toward the issuance of tokens that have a higher velocity that represent, for example, a claim on a portion of gold bullion sitting in a vault somewhere," he said. Beyond the obvious potential interest in this work from commodities exchanges, Lund said IBM is being approached by retail companies, beverage providers and energy companies looking to tokenize various aspects of their business offerings. A fourth category of companies Lund said is approaching IBM are startups looking to raise capital, though he admits these opportunities have proved less enticing.

Artificial Intelligence: Optimising Your Recruitment & Avoiding Bias

AI diversity recruitment bias
The machine learning technology at the heart of Textio means that the more it is used, the better its analysis becomes. Conclusions drawn from previous job adverts enable the algorithms to give posts a score based on the tone and gendered nature of language used. Textio can predict if a post is likely to attract female or male respondents, and even how long it will take for the position to be filled. It can offer guidance on how to improve writing, enabling businesses to attract better qualified and more diverse talent in less time. It seems to be a win-win for HR. Critics of this kind of system may point out the potentially homogenising effect it could have upon the written word. Will technology like Textio make all job adverts the same? Could it lead to a process of levelling down, where only the most vanilla of workers are able to gain employment? Hesitancy around this technology is understandable: writing is a fundamental part of human expression, and it’s not clear that we want machines to start meddling in it. In fact, job adverts provide a unique opportunity for businesses to convey their ethos to potential employees.

Microsoft inches closer to commercially-viable quantum computing

Microsoft is slowly making headway in the race toward commercially-viable quantum computing, tapping into the unique properties of a certain particle to address issues engineers at many tech companies have been struggling with for decades. Alphabet, IBM, and a number of smaller companies are all competing for "quantum supremacy," a disputed term referring to the point at which quantum computers will be able to handle calculations beyond the capacity of the world's best supercomputers. "[Quantum supremacy] is very catchy, but it's a bit confusing and oversells what quantum computers will be able to do," Simon Benjamin, a quantum expert at Oxford University, told MIT's Technology Review. He added that even as the abilities of quantum computers improve, classic computers will still be faster and cheaper. "Using a quantum computer would be like chartering a jumbo jet to cross the road," Benjamin said.

How Nvidia is helping autonomous cars simulate their way to safety

how nvidia is helping autonomous cars simulate their way to safety gtc path billions of miles
To further improve simulations, Nvidia, and some of its partners, are using data from the sensors of autonomous vehicles to build higher definition maps. When autonomous vehicles hit the road, these machines will not only rely on the data that is available through training, but also contribute to data collection by sharing the data that it has captured from its LIDAR, IR, radar, and camera arrays. When this newly captured data is combined through deep learning with existing low-quality data sets, it will make streets and roads look more photo-realistic. Cognata claims that its algorithms can process the data in a way to bring out details in shadows and highlights, much like an HDR photo from your smartphone’s camera, to create a high-quality scene. While simulation is an excellent tool, Atsmon noted it has its own flaws. It’s too simple, and for autonomous driving to be realistic, it must learn from edge cases. Cognata claims that it only takes a few clicks to program in an edge case to validate autonomous vehicles for more unusual driving scenarios.

Disruption vs. Innovation: Defining Success

Disruption vs. Innovation: Defining Success
Innovation or rapid evolutionary innovation, as I define it, is turning your dreams into reality, or manifesting what you envision. Disruptive companies are those whose innovations or innovative processes completely change the market they serve. They might use an innovation to accomplish their goals, but not all innovations are disruptive. In other words, not all innovations cause a business or market to rapidly evolve. I firmly believe that all businesses must evolve over time in order to stay competitive in the marketplace, and that has shown to be true when it comes to disruption. Companies need appreciable time for their services to evolve and react to the needs of the market. Disruption does not happen overnight; neither does success. There are many so-called "overnight successes" that have actually been around for decades before finally reaching the tipping point and having mass appeal or nationwide/worldwide recognition.

5 Things You Should Know About the Cloud, But Were Afraid to Ask

tower disappearing into the clouds
Depending on whom you believe, cloud computing goes back as far as the early 1960s, with J.C.R. Licklider and the introduction of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (a.k.a. ARPANET) or as recent as 2006, when former Google CEO Eric Schmidt purportedly coined the term “cloud computing” at an industry conference. Whichever origin story you buy into, the cloud has clearly taken off and with it, business, IT and marketing leaders are clamoring to assess where things are now and where they may be headed. What follows are five fundamental observations about the cloud today (in no particular order). I hope these thoughts from the front line are useful and maybe even a bit of a provocative look at the cloud. ... The good news is the agility that comes with being on the cloud pays off in the intermediate to long-run. What’s more, it’s becoming clear in the urgent communication we see from organizations not yet on the cloud that if you don’t do it, you’ll fall behind — which creates its own kind of costs.

Quote for the day:

"Change is the end result of all true learning." -- Leo Buscaglia