Daily Tech Digest - August 10, 2019

Blockchain’s real promise: Automating trust

Blockchain’s real promise: Automating trust
The opportunity for transformation is significant because the cost of establishing trust in a supply chain is incredibly high. Consider the problem of counterfeit goods: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that $461 billion worth of fake goods are sold annually, amounting to 2.5 percent of global trade. According to the Global Brand Counterfeiting Report 2018, total global counterfeiting is expected to surge to $1.82 trillion by 2020, exposing businesses to revenue loss, quality issues, and potential reputational damage. As companies grapple with how to build trust among their suppliers, they are doling out big money on activities such as duplicative testing, manual auditing, and reconciliation, while investing in extra insurance and legal assistance to backstop any failure to meet contractual obligations. In the airline industry, for example, carriers are grounding planes longer, hoarding an excess of spare parts, and avoiding the use of less-expensive used parts and planes because they don’t fully trust their provenance.

The brain inspires a new type of artificial intelligence

Brain dynamics do not comply with a well-defined clock synchronized for all nerve cells, since the biological scheme has to cope with asynchronous inputs, as physical reality develops. "When looking ahead one immediately observes a frame with multiple objects. For instance, while driving one observes cars, pedestrian crossings, and road signs, and can easily identify their temporal ordering and relative positions," said Prof. Kanter. "Biological hardware (learning rules) is designed to deal with asynchronous inputs and refine their relative information." In contrast, traditional artifical intelligence algorithms are based on synchronous inputs, hence the relative timing of different inputs constituting the same frame is typically ignored. The new study demonstrates that ultrafast learning rates are surprisingly identical for small and large networks. Hence, say the researchers, "the disadvantage of the complicated brain's learning scheme is actually an advantage". Another important finding is that learning can occur without learning steps through self-adaptation according to asynchronous inputs.

Are you blinded by the promise of AI?

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Data is being collected by technologies across your business faster than any human can assess, analyze and leverage it. The big leap forward in data analytics has been the machine learning capabilities that result in algorithms that can forecast behavior and offer recommendations and/or potential pathways. From the recommendations that come from content streaming services to shopping options that pop up in online advertising, many of us see these algorithms at work every day. Customer data—when collected with permission, security and high integrity—offers businesses potent customer personalization opportunities, from sending discounts or information around important life events (anniversaries, holidays, etc.) to creating personalized communications. Because AI can collect and analyze large data sets at remarkably fast rates, businesses can use it to predict potential issues, favorable market opportunities or customer needs. To identify these opportunities, organizations need to work across all business groups to assess the numerous places data is collected, and how and when that data can be used

Software quality issues: not just for Boeing CIOs

It is clearly no exaggeration to describe as becoming increasingly life-critical. Software keeps planes in the sky, tests the cars we drive, keeps the health systems running our hospitals and ensures 1.5 million smart meters keep houses warm across the UK is vital. However, with software enabling some of the most important and life-critical functions, we need to know it can execute, flawlessly, again and again. In Boeing’s case, a functional issue prevented the software from performing as it was expected to. However other issues, which are coding related, not functional, are arguably harder to detect. Coding issues in software can result in poor quality and IT outages similar to Boeing. CISQ’s recent research on software quality estimated the cost of poor software quality to $2.8 Trillion for the US alone. CIOs, therefore, need the ability to oversee the current state of an organisations software. Yet, the 2018 Software Intelligence Report found only half (51%) of CIOs claim to “have ‘some’ knowledge of current applications” software quality. Even worse, less than 50% of CIOs believe their organisations have enough insight into the software to make the best decisions.

Cyberattack Warning As Dangerous Issues Found On Popular Office Printers

Office printer.
In both those disclosures, the primary risk exposed was unpatched devices providing a soft entry point into a would-be secure network. In essence, attackers don't need to try too hard to develop sophisticated TTPs when there are vulnerable IoT devices that, in many cases, are not even on the radar of corporate technology security teams. "IoT devices," Microsoft pointed out, "are purposefully designed to connect to a network and many are simply connected to the internet with little management or oversight. In most cases however, the customers’ IT operation center don’t know they exist on the network." How true is that of network printers, connecting to the open internet to download printer drivers while also appearing on internal networks? In the cyberattacks identified by Microsoft, those devices—including the office printer—became "points of ingress from which the actor established a presence on the network and continued looking for further access.

The Pros and Cons of Emotional AI

Group Of Men School Symposium Learning Studying Cybersecurity AI Cisco Pro Cons Article
Some analysts also worry that if emotional AI gauges how people feel often enough or provides responses with simulated feelings, it could give humanity an excuse not to stay connected. For example, if an AI tool could check on a loved one and send a report that says everything’s fine, a user could decide that’s enough information and not bother confirming it’s true. What if a person has a disability that causes them to have trouble controlling their facial expressions, or perpetually grimace because they’re in pain? Those things don’t have anything to do with the kind of service received. If emotional AI makes the wrong judgment, it could bring unwanted attention to the individual and cause embarrassment. It’s also possible that AI could pick up on a person’s emotions and do something that worsens how they feel. Many people have had at least a few instances where Facebook’s “On This Day” feature showed something they’d rather not recall. Some companies are developing AI that could respond to people’s angry or sad emotions to cheer them up or calm them down.

New wave of smart cities has arrived -- and they’re nothing like science fiction

smart city
Successful smart city projects blend disciplines, bringing together experts in behavioral change alongside specialists in artificial intelligence and information technologies. Interdisciplinary work can be messy and difficult, it can take longer and may not always work -- but when it does, it can bring real benefits to cities. For instance, Nottingham City Council and Nottingham Trent University have been part of the Remourban regeneration program, working across sectors with cities around Europe. Homes in the Nottingham suburb of Sneinton have been upgraded with new outside walls and windows, a solar roof and a state-of-the-art heating system -- a process that takes just a few days. The result is improved insulation and reduced energy bills for residents, but also better public health: calculations suggest that bad housing costs the UK’s National Health Service £1.4 billion a year, and improving the quality of homes can cut visits to local doctors almost by half. The German city of Darmstadt has worked with citizens, universities, museums and businesses to plan for the future.

White House Staffer Seeking Threesomes, According to Data Leak

An explanation of how the data was obtained was published in a detailed blog post Thursday. Writer Alex Lomas acknowledged it's possible tech-savvy web users could have manipulated the data to make it appear their locations were close to seats of power. The focus of the post wasn’t on the technology-enhanced sex habits of Supreme Court law clerks, but on the continued issues with leaked data and hookup apps. That includes the ready release of personal information allowing users of Grindr and Romeo to be tracked down from great distances. “We think it is utterly unacceptable for app makers to leak the precise location of their customers in this fashion,” Lomas wrote. “It leaves their users at risk from stalkers, exes, criminals, and nation states.” While the differentiating features for such apps involve the ability to locate other nearby users, developers have faced calls to address flaws in the technology that allows people to access private data and to find the precise location of users from significant distances and then target them.

State Farm Investigates Credential-Stuffing Attack

State Farm Investigates Credential-Stuffing Attack
"State Farm discovered a bad actor or actors attempting to gain access to customers' online accounts using a list of user IDs and passwords from other sources," the company spokesperson tells ISMG. "To defend against the attack, we reset passwords for these online accounts in an effort to prevent additional attempts by the bad actor. We have implemented additional controls and continue to evaluate our information security efforts to mitigate future attacks." It's not clear how many customers were affected by the incident, and the State Farm spokesperson did not specify how many notification letters went out. "We encourage customers to regularly change their passwords to a new and unique password, use multifactor authentication whenever possible and review all personal accounts for signs of unusual activity," the spokesperson says. Credential stuffing has emerged as one of the biggest threats to enterprises across the world. A 2018 report by security vendor Akamai found that companies were reporting nearly 13 credential stuffing incidents each month in which the attacker successfully identified valid credentials.

Blockchain’s Role In Collaborative Competition

Blockchain’s immutable record avoids legal disputes by clearly attributing IP. Through self-regulating and decentralised smart contracts, organisations can collaborate with far more confidence. Rather than trusting a competing company, organisations place their trust in technology. Let’s say that one of the manufacturers in the IVC’s data sharing strategy opens up the information they have about the production and performance of a specific tool. If another company wants to access the information, they can, but may need to offer IP or capital in exchange. Once the exchange is made, each party gets something out of it which ultimately benefits the manufacturing industry as a whole. Blockchain is one of many disruptive technologies that has made it easier for companies to stay competitive through collaboration. The IVC’s encouragement of blockchain adoption demonstrates just how much capitalist companies have changed. Instead of locking IP away forever, organisations recognise that data exchange is advisable, if not necessary.

Quote for the day:

"Leaders are the ones who keep faith with the past, keep step with the present, and keep the promise to posterity." -- Harold J. Seymour

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