Daily Tech Digest - October 11, 2019

Artificial stupidity: ‘Move slow and fix things’ could be the mantra AI needs

3D Rendering, Robots speaking no evil, hearing no evil, seeing no evil
While there are countless other examples of how far AI still has to go in terms of addressing biases in the algorithms, the broader issue at play here is that AI just isn’t good or trustworthy enough across the spectrum. “Everyone wants to be at the cutting edge, or the bleeding edge — from universities, to companies, to government,” said Dr. Kristinn R. Thórisson, an AI researcher and founder of the Icelandic Institute for Intelligent Machines, speaking in the same panel discussion as Carly Kind. “And they think artificial intelligence is the next [big] thing. But we’re actually in the age of artificial stupidity.” Thórisson is a leading proponent of what is known as artificial general intelligence (AGI), which is concerned with integrating disparate systems to create a more complex AI with humanlike attributes, such as self-learning, reasoning, and planning. Depending on who you ask, AGI is coming in 5 years, it’s a long way off, or it’s never happening — Thórisson, however, evidently does believe that AGI will happen one day. When that will be, he is not so sure — but what he is sure of is that today’s machines are not as smart as some may think.

Close the Gap Between Cyber-Risk and Business Risk

With the number and types of cyberattacks on the rise, and the growing numbers of companies that experience some sort of breach, cyber-risk has become equivalent to business risk. As such, a company's vulnerability to cyber threats is now a top-of-mind issue for C-level executives, which puts increased pressure on CISOs I talk with to ensure their security controls work as they should. Yet there seems to be a large gap between how companies should address cyber-risk and what they're actually doing. How do I know this? Aside from conversations and interactions with security leaders that point to this trend, I also collect security statistics from hundreds of audience members via real-time polling software when I'm making a presentation. My audiences generally include red and blue security teams, auditors, security executives, and individuals representing various non-technical, non-security leadership roles across government organizations, financial services, transportation, telecom, retail, healthcare, and oil and gas, just to name a few — providing an interesting cross-section of perspectives.

Industry 4.0: How IoT Will Inspire A New Era Of Maintenance Technology

The next phase of maintenance software evolution involved transforming desktop software into digital cloud-based software. This shift democratized the highest level of security and reliability by making maintenance software technology scalable and therefore affordable. What once was technology enjoyed solely by this specific aerospace sector is now accessible to smaller independent organizations across a wide variety of industries. Today, we’re seeing the mobilization of maintenance technology. My company produces a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that makes it easier for today’s growing deskless workforce to submit work orders from their mobile devices. Mobile CMMS software also allows organizations to keep better track of preventative maintenance tasks, which can dramatically extend equipment lifetime, increase productivity and ultimately boost profits.  But maintenance software still has so much untapped potential. I believe the next generation of Industry 4.0 software will empower even more people, organizations and entire industries through the successful mainstream implementation of connected IoT devices.

Why it’s time to start talking about blockchain ethics

Blocks and scales of justice
Blockchain technology is still mostly a niche interest; the value of the cryptocurrency market is minuscule compared with the value of traditional global investment markets. It doesn’t have much influence, if any, in the global financial system—rather, cryptocurrencies are mostly seen as a way to profit by speculating on their volatile prices. But that may be changing. Big mainstream institutions like Fidelity Investments and Intercontinental Exchange (which owns the New York Stock Exchange) have embraced the technology. Facebook wants to launch its own global digital currency. Central banks may be close to getting into the business too. Lindmark said that like other “tech ethics” fields, the field of blockchain ethics should examine what the technology is capable of doing, and ponder the potential consequences. For instance, blockchains make it possible to create leaderless, “decentralized” organizations. Does that mean no one is responsible if something goes wrong?

Digital Transformation And Public Sector Success

Public and private sector organisations need to be flexible, open, and have strong yet humble leaders who can accept when they need to change direction. Ultimately, digital should sit at the heart of operations which, in Taylor’s view, isn’t yet the norm. “We’re still experimenting with digital technologies on the edge of business, which means this doesn’t get enough traction or isn’t taken seriously. We need to bring the experimental mindset much more to the front and centre of business, and do it very openly so people see what’s happening, understand it and see the backing of the leadership team.” This includes tapping into the ideas of digital natives, who were born and raised in the digital world and, as a result, can see opportunities that others might miss. “We have digital natives coming up in the more junior ranks of our organisations, but are we listening to them? They have a lot of ideas about how we can do things better, but are we giving them a voice? How are we learning from talented people across the whole business? We need to make sure there are digital skills at all levels.”

British Airways data breach: class action lawsuit approved

The 2018 British Airways data breach was one of the first to occur under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), so the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office)’s investigation into the incident was seen as a test case. ... Last week, on 4 October, the High Court duly granted a group litigation order, effectively giving the go-ahead to mass legal action from the 500,000 British Airways customers whose personal data was compromised in the breach. Mr Justice Warby ruled that victims have 15 months to join the class action. Last summer, BA fell victim to a formjacking attack that skimmed its customers’ payment data when they attempted to make bookings through the BA app or website. The security firm RiskIQ attributed the attack to the Magecart group, which has been responsible for similar attacks, including on Ticketmaster. According to the ICO, “a variety of information was compromised […], including log in, payment card, and travel booking details as well [sic] name and address information” and BA’s “poor security arrangements” were to blame.

As the smart building market grows, so do the security risks

smart building
As vehicles, buildings, and in some cases, entire cities strive to become smarter and more connected, security becomes a bigger and bigger piece of the puzzle. The very applications that make people really excited about 5G, like drones delivering packages or autonomous vehicles, are the same applications that are the riskiest if they should become compromised. And in some cases, such as a hacker gaining control of smart traffic lights or compromising a smart hospital’s control system, these breaches could mean life or death, as MobileIron’s engineer Russ Mohr told RCR Wireless News earlier this week. Global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky recently analyzed data from 40,000 smart buildings worldwide that use the firm’s security products and found that nearly 4 in 10, or 37.8%, of these buildings had been affected by a malicious cyberattack. In most cases, these cyberattacks were attempting to infect the computers that control smart building automation systems.

McAfee, IBM join forces for global open source cybersecurity initiative

One of the key realizations of the initiative is the time wasted on connection and integration that could be better spent creating tools to directly address pertinent security issues. With this newfound integration, the organizations hope to "develop protocols and standards which enable tools to work together and share information across vendors. "The aim is to simplify the integration of security technologies across the threat lifecycle – from threat hunting and detection to analytics, operations, and response -- so that products can work together out of the box," OASIS added in their statement. ... The Open Cybersecurity Alliance will create a new "set of open source content, code, tools, patterns, and practices" that allow the companies to share information and solutions to situations. The sharing of insights will help all of the companies better prepare for future cyberattacks and increase the industry's visibility in the threat landscape.

An important quantum algorithm may actually be a property of nature

Conceptual illustration of DNA double helix
Quantum mechanics provided an additional twist. At the time, Grover’s recipe was only the second quantum algorithm that had been proved faster than its classical counterpart. (The first was Peter Shor’s algorithm for factoring numbers, which he discovered in 1994.) Grover’s work was an important factor in preparing the way for the quantum computing revolution that is still ongoing today. But despite the interest, implementing Grover’s algorithm has taken time because of the significant technical challenges involved. The first quantum computer capable of implementing it appeared in 1998, but the first scalable version didn’t appear until 2017, and even then it worked with only three qubits. So new ways to implement the algorithm are desperately needed.  Today Stéphane Guillet and colleagues at the University of Toulon in France say this may be easier than anybody expected. They say they have evidence that Grover’s search algorithm is a naturally occurring phenomenon. “We provide the first evidence that under certain conditions, electrons may naturally behave like a Grover search, looking for defects in a material,” they say.

IT leaders must recognise & acknowledge the growing mental health issues

Mental health is increasingly talked about as a societal issue, but it’s not one that’s had much focus in IT. It’s unsurprising, therefore, to learn that as many as one in five IT professionals have expressed mental health concerns as a result of their work. A Harvey Nash survey of more than 2000 UK IT workers highlighted problems around excessive working hours as a result of skills shortages, as well as lack of flexibility, and job insecurity. IT staff are no longer hiding away in a dingy back office staring at screens trying to keep the lights on. They’re on the frontline of business and government, running websites and payment systems and monitoring the security of applications and data that can be under constant attack. It’s too easy to dismiss all this as part of a stressful but well-paid career. More than four in five IT professionals are male, often more on the introverted end of the personality spectrum, and perhaps less inclined to talk about their feelings and worries in the workplace.

Quote for the day:

"To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

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