Daily Tech Digest - May 07, 2018

The Impending Facial Recognition Singularity

Facial Recognition
The result is that you will be identified every time your picture appears. If you use a real photo as your avatar, then your accounts will be connected, even if you use different names, account IDs, and email addresses. Even if you post an untagged photo of yourself to a site, the surrounding text will probably allow the system to know that you are in the picture somewhere; and after a hand full of pictures, it will be obvious to the computer which face is yours. On the opposite side of the spectrum however, an account with absolutely no photos might prevent identification, but it will stand out as fake.  The offline situation is no better. Cameras are becoming so inexpensive that they are built into all kinds of things. Cameras can be a cheap and easy way of allowing computers to sense and react to their environment. For example, cameras have been built into thermostats, smoke detectors, door bells, and toys. Overtime, all of the camera equipped IoT devices have created an Internet of Cameras (IoC). When paired together, government and private cameras provide almost complete coverage of our lives. Soon we will be seen and recognized everywhere we go.

Building Cybersecurity Shock Absorbers For The Enterprise

cyber resilience shock absorber
You know your data best, he continues, you know which “systems...are most important, what is the downtime that you can afford to have, what is the data move, where does the data exist.” Outside parties aren’t in your company every day. The only way they understand your priorities is through you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look beyond yourself for advice. Building resiliency across the entire organization takes everyone. Non-security colleagues may have better ideas than you think. Mignona Cote, global head of identity and access management for insurance company AIG, notes that there’s a department in every business that’s mitigated risk much longer than infosec: accounting. “The finance people have been control people for years, way before we were,” she explains. “When I was an IT person and tried to do something with numbers or whatever, it always knocked the general ledger out of balance and people would come looking for me. They actually knew how to look at the logs -- the transaction logs -- which [security] never really embraced. There's a level of control that we need to focus on outside of what we typically do as IT professionals.”

Google could be getting serious about IoT with release of Android Things

Raspberry Pi 3 and Android Things
The idea behind Things is to provide a unified, one-size-fits-all software option for the developers of constrained devices like smart displays, kiosks and digital signage, among others. Device makers won’t be allowed to modify parts of Android Things’ code, specifically the parts that ensure Google can flash updates to all devices running the software at any time. That’s a potentially major sea-change for the IoT should Things use become widespread. If security is far and away the biggest stumbling block to IoT deployments, the inability or unwillingness of some device makers to regularly update their software to patch known security holes is arguably the biggest part of that problem. Regular, guaranteed software updates could go a long way toward making IoT more attractive to the more risk-averse enterprise and industrial users that will account for all that exponential growth being predicted for the IoT marketplace. There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, of course – Things is architected as more of an entry-level, consumer-style product at this point, for starters. But the multiplicity of developer sessions scheduled for it at this year’s I/O conference suggests that Google is serious about moving the framework forward as an option for device makers, and broadening its appeal among them.

How Mobile AI Will Transform Our Lives

The future of mobile AI is rapidly progressing. Businesses involved in the component manufacture and app development for the mobile phone industry aim to make improvements in the following areas. Better components and hardware features improve the ability of a mobile device to gather information from its surrounding environment. Previously, the phone camera was just a way to capture images and record videos, while the microphone was a way for the user to communicate during calls. In the mobile phone of the next generation, the camera and microphone will act as the eyes and ears of the intelligent phone. These components are expected to give the phone the ability to become aware of the world around it and make recommendations for its users’ benefit. Add the face recognition and GPS location feature to the mix and we come very close to a device that can understand its users’ wants and act as an assistant rather than just a communication device. The face recognition feature is particularly useful, as it would give the phone the ability to recognize the user’s emotions. The device would know when the user is sad, happy, or hungry.

How to Collect Meaningful Data

The hard truth here is that bad data leads to bad decisions. Thus, it is important to take the time necessary to build a proper data collection process. Two weeks ago, as I completed my big data certification, the importance of proper data collection became clear. It also reminded me of some basic data collection techniques I learned during Six Sigma training. That's what I want to share with you today. There are many benefits to building a proper data collection process. The primary benefit will be to the teams that need to sift through the data for insights. The sooner they get value from the data, the better. This saves time and money for everyone involved. Having a proper data collection process allows you to document what data is being collected, by whom, and for what purpose. Your data collection process should be part of a larger data governance strategy. Unfortunately, data governance is one of those things that happens after a company grows to a certain size. (So is data security, but I digress.) Here's a simple process outline for you to review. It's worked well for me over the years. Feel free to adopt or change for your own needs. Use whatever you can to build a data collection that helps you gather meaningful data.

Deep learning comes full circle

Artificial Intelligence digital concept; illustration of brain as connected network
Whatever the underlying reason, insights gleaned from the 2014 study led to what Yamins calls goal-directed models of the brain: Rather than try to model neural activity in the brain directly, instead train artificial intelligence to solve problems the brain needs to solve, then use the resulting AI system as a model of the brain. Since 2014, Yamins and collaborators have been refining the original goal-directed model of the brain’s vision circuits and extending the work in new directions, including understanding the neural circuits that process inputs from rodents’ whiskers. In perhaps the most ambitious project, Yamins and postdoctoral fellow Nick Haber are investigating how infants learn about the world around them through play. Their infants – actually relatively simple computer simulations – are motivated only by curiosity. They explore their worlds by moving around and interacting with objects, learning as they go to predict what happens when they hit balls or simply turn their heads. At the same time, the model learns to predict what parts of the world it doesn’t understand, then tries to figure those out.

The Hub Problem with Distributed Backup

Organizations need an alternative to using the primary data center as the centralized hub. The cloud may be the ideal hub. In a cloud model, IT sends primary data center and remote office data to a public cloud provider, which acts as the centralized repository. Data is copied once and there is one primary store of all backup data. Some solutions will cache data at each remote office and the primary data center so that restores of recently protected data can be quickly serviced but the actual movement of data is just one step. A DR copy can automatically be created by replicating the cloud copy within the cloud infrastructure. The other advantage of using the cloud as the hub is that it almost guarantees remote management will be of high quality since all sites essentially require remote management. It also means that traveling or vacationing IT personnel can remotely manage the primary data center data protection process. Using the cloud also better positions the organization to adhere to various legal and regulatory standards that dictate where data can reside since the larger public cloud providers have multiple data centers in multiple regions.

Why Network and Security Operations Centers Should be Doing More

Even though a NOC or a SOC consolidates a variety of tools and measurements into a single management system, they are still too isolated. Rather than this siloed approach, what’s needed is a new approach, with a system that can bring security visibility and control into the NOC, and provide operational requirements and network and workflow visibility to the SOC. By combining these systems into a single, holistic solution organizations can focus on the bigger picture of “secure throughput” that can streamline operations while managing and even anticipating critical security events.  This new approach could also help overworked IT teams operate with the benefit of the other’s perspective, and enable organizations to realize a new level of protection and operational management that can simultaneously adapt to network changes. Not only will this added insight allow organizations to see events more clearly, but it also enables the development of effective automation that allows the network to respond to an event at digital speeds without impacting critical business processes. 

Eight things to expect at Google I/O 2018

I/O will be more consumer and developer facing, so we should expect to hear more about products like Google Lens, as well as the company’s TensorFlow platform and its Tensor Processing Unit chips. Those chips are the core of the company’s specially designed AI training systems, and they help the company accelerate the learning process for its neural networks. Also expect to hear a lot of the same grandiose predictions about AI that we heard onstage at Facebook’s F8 developer conference last week, when executives also described AI as the future of Facebook’s business. Of course, it’s no surprise that Google and Facebook compete for top talent, as both companies have rival AI research divisions that command some of the highest salaries in the tech industry. ... Google Assistant and the Google Home hardware family it primarily lives on are slated to be big consumer-facing focuses for the company at this year’s I/O. Assistant remains Google’s largest competitive push against Amazon’s Alexa and, to a lesser extent, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. And while Assistant does live on iOS and Android devices as an app and voice interface, it’s most readily useful as the OS layer for any number of smart home devices, starting with Google’s smart speaker family.

The 7 Fundamentals of IT Consultant Success

The 7 fundamentals of IT consultant success
Don’t understate the value of the insights you gained working in their industry, Perkins says. “They are what will differentiate you in the early days of your consulting career,” he says. “Others will know the methods, tools and craft skills of consulting, but few will have the depth of industry-specific insight you bring to the table. Trade on this.” As you develop a sense of which industry sectors most interest you, seek out assignments that will extend your expertise, Perkins says. “Your value increases the deeper you go,” he says. “And conversely, actively manage yourself away from industry specializations that don’t interest you.” Early in his consulting career, Perkins was assigned to two large agricultural chemical clients in a row, and was beginning to be referred to as the “AgChem” subject-matter expert. “Nothing wrong with AgChem, but I fancied myself a financial services technology strategist and took steps to gain experience in other areas,” he says. “At the same time, though, don’t neglect the emerging technologies and methodologies that will keep you attractive to a broad range of client and assignment types.”

Quote for the day:

"When leaders are worthy of respect, the people are willing to work for them. When their virtue is worthy of admiration, their authority can be established." -- Huananzi

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