Daily Tech Digest - June 02, 2021

A recurrent neural network that infers the global temporal structure based on local examples

"Every day, we manipulate information about the world to make predictions," Jason Kim, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told TechXplore. "How much longer can I cook this pasta before it becomes soggy? How much later can I leave for work before rush hour? Such information representation and computation broadly fall into the category of working memory. While we can program a computer to build models of pasta texture or commute times, our primary objective was to understand how a neural network learns to build models and make predictions only by observing examples." Kim, his mentor Danielle S. Bassett and the rest of their team showed that the two key mechanisms through which a neural network learns to make predictions are associations and context. For instance, if they wanted to teach their RNN to change the pitch of a song, they fed it the original song and two other versions of it, one with a slightly higher pitch and the other with a slightly lower pitch. For each shift in pitch, the researchers 'biased' the RNN with a context variable. Subsequently, they trained it to store the original and modified songs within its working memory.

Cybersecurity industry analysis: Another recurring vulnerability we must correct

Security tooling is a must-have, but we need to look wider and restore balance to the people component of security defense. Automation is the future. Why should we care about the human element of cybersecurity? Virtually everything in our lives is powered by software, and it’s true that automation is replacing the human elements that were once present in so many industries. It’s a sign of progress in a world digitizing at warp speed, with AI and machine learning hot topics keeping many organizations future-focused. So, why, then, would a human-focused approach to cybersecurity be anything other than an antiquated solution to a technologically advancing problem? The fact that billions of data records have been stolen in breaches in the past year, including the most recent Facebook breach affecting over half a billion accounts, should indicate that we’re not doing enough (or taking the right approach) to make a serious counter-punch against threat actors. Cybersecurity tooling is a much-needed component of cyber defense, and tools will always have a place. Analysts have been absolutely on point in recommending the latest tools in a risk mitigation approach for enterprises, and that will not change.

Researchers Confront Major Hurdle in Quantum Computing

A time crystal is a strange state of matter in which interactions between the particles that make up the crystal can stabilize oscillations of the system in time indefinitely. Imagine a clock that keeps ticking forever; the pendulum of the clock oscillates in time, much like the oscillating time crystal. By implementing a series of electric-field pulses on electrons, the researchers were able to create a state similar to a time crystal. They found that they could then exploit this state to improve the transfer of an electron’s spin state in a chain of semiconductor quantum dots. “Our work takes the first steps toward showing how strange and exotic states of matter, like time crystals, can potentially by used for quantum information processing applications, such as transferring information between qubits,” Nichol says. “We also theoretically show how this scenario can implement other single- and multi-qubit operations that could be used to improve the performance of quantum computers.” Both AQT and time crystals, while different, could be used simultaneously with quantum computing systems to improve performance.

How Ethical Hackers Play An Important Role In Protecting Enterprise Data

Data is an essential asset in the current dynamic setting. The value of data has made big organizations more vulnerable to cyberattacks. But believing that a big company can only suffer from a data breach incident is wrong. In reality, No one is immune to data theft, whether you’re an individual, an SME, a large enterprise, or even a state.  A surer way by which organizations can protect themselves from the possibility of an effective malicious attack is to engage with competent, ethical hackers. It would help if your organization structure had someone who understands how malicious hackers think. In such scenarios, it makes sense to take the help of ethical hackers. Ethical hacking in cybersecurity has its groundwork on data protection. Unlike cybercriminals, ethical hackers operate with the consent of the client. They use the same tools and techniques as malicious attackers. However, cybersecurity and ethical hacking experts intend to protect and secure your network as they can think like the bad guys. They can quickly discover your system vulnerabilities and suggest how you can resolve them before they are exploited.

Microsoft, GPT-3, and the future of OpenAI

There’s a clear line between academic research and commercial product development. In academic AI research, the goal is to push the boundaries of science. This is exactly what GPT-3 did. OpenAI’s researchers showed that with enough parameters and training data, a single deep learning model could perform several tasks without the need for retraining. And they have tested the model on several popular natural language processing benchmarks. But in commercial product development, you’re not running against benchmarks such as GLUE and SQuAD. You must solve a specific problem, solve it ten times better than the incumbents, and be able to run it at scale and in a cost-effective manner. Therefore, if you have a large and expensive deep learning model that can perform ten different tasks at 90 percent accuracy, it’s a great scientific achievement. But when there are already ten lighter neural networks that perform each of those tasks at 99 percent accuracy and a fraction of the price, then your jack-of-all-trades model will not be able to compete in a profit-driven market.

Has DevOps killed the BA/QA/DBA Roles?

As the industry continues towards DevOps and Cloud, these fields will thin out. Each of the roles will trend towards more of a specialization, especially the DBA, since the operational overhead of maintaining a DB is rapidly decreasing. They’ll last longer at big companies, but the tolerance for lower performers will drastically decline. However, simultaneously the demand for data expertise will keep accelerating as shown in the forecast below. Growth in warehousing and data science should ensure data specialization remains lucrative, and DBAs are well-poised to transition. Of the three, the BA role seems safest. The average software developer simply does not have the time (nor often capabilities) to maintain the social network of a strong BA. However, as more companies migrate to DevOps/Agile, the feedback barrier between users and developers will continue to shrink. As it does, BAs that are not technically competent will be pushed out. The QA role is the hardest to predict. As automation improves, demand for QA persons to run manual scripts and “catch bugs” will disappear. 

How to Get a Cybersecurity Job in 2021

There are a bunch of certifications, from CompTIA’s Security+ to others that will help signal your readiness for cybersecurity jobs. Some are more entry-level and require IT competencies such as the A+. But some will require you to have job experience in cybersecurity (such as the CISSP). There’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation and you might wonder – how can you get job experience if you need job experience to get the job in the first place? Adjacent job experience can often make a difference here. Many people transition into cybersecurity from IT roles, such as network administration, system administration, or being on helpdesk for IT, which is an entry-level role. You can gain experience here and transition over. There are also programs tailored for veterans and people with law enforcement backgrounds to get into cybersecurity. Lastly there are many cybersecurity internships being offered to bridge this gap – though with the right backing, training, and the right experience, you can skip ahead to junior-level analyst roles. SOC analyst roles are a good way to break into the cybersecurity industry. Security operations centers need analysts to parse through different threats.

Making A Case For Serverless Machine Learning

The first benefit of serverless machine learning is that it is very scalable. It can stack up to 10k requests at the same time without having to write any additional logic. It doesn’t consume extra time to scale which makes it perfect for handling random high loads. Secondly, with a pay-as-you-go architecture of serverless machine learning a person doesn’t have to pay unused server time. It can save an enormous amount of money. For example, if a user has 50k requests a month, he is obliged to pay only for 50k requests. Thirdly, infrastructure management becomes very easy as a user doesn’t have to hire a special person to look into it, it can be done very easily by a backend developer. For instance, AWS Lambda is one of the most popular serverless cloud services that has these advantages. It lets users run code without managing servers. It obviated the need for developers to explicitly configure, deploy, and manage long-term computing units. Training in Serverless Machine Learning does not require extensive programming knowledge. Basic knowledge of Python, Machine Learning, Linux, and Terminal along with an AWS account is enough to get one started.

How Blockchain Technology Can Benefit the Internet of Things

The distributed aspect of blockchain means that data are replicated across several computers. This fact makes the hacking more challenging since there are now several target devices. The redundancy in storage brought by blockchain technology brings extra security and enhances data access since users in IoT ecosystems can submit to and retrieve their data from different devices, Carvahlo said. Continuing with this example, say the burglar is captured and claims in court that the recorded video is forged evidence. The immutability nature of blockchain technology means that any change to the stored data can be easily detected. Thus, the burglar’s claim can be verified by looking at attempts to tamper with the data, he said. However, the decentralization aspect of blockchain technology can be a major issue when storing data from IoT devices, according to Carvahlo. “Decentralization means that the computers used to store data [in a distributed fashion] might belong to different entities,” he said. “In other words, if not implemented appropriately, there is a risk that users’ sensitive data can now be by default stored by and available to third parties.”

Software Engineering at Google: Practices, Tools, Values, and Culture

The skills required for developing good software are not the same skills that were required (at one point) to mass produce automobiles, etc. We need engineers to respond creatively, and to continually learn, not do one thing over and over. If they don’t have creative freedom, they will not be able to evolve with the industry as it, too, rapidly changes. To foster that creativity, we have to allow people to be human, and to foster a team climate of trust, humility, and respect. Trust to do the right thing. Humility to realize you can’t do it alone and can make mistakes. ... Building with a diverse team is, in our belief, critical to making sure that the needs of a more diverse user base are met. We see that historically: first-generation airbags were terribly dangerous for anyone that wasn’t built like the people on the engineering teams designing those safety systems. Crash test dummies were built for the average man, and the results were bad for women and children, for instance. In other words, we’re not just working to build for everyone, we’re working to build with everyone. It takes a lot of institutional support and local energy to really build multicultural capacity in an organization. We need allies, training, and support structures.

Quote for the day:

"Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself." -- Thomas J. Watson

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