Daily Tech Digest - June 06, 2021

The computer will see you now: is your therapy session about to be automated?

AI research has not improved significantly since that review, she argues. “Based on the available evidence, I’m not optimistic.” Yet she added that a personalized approach could work better. Rather than assuming a bedrock of emotional states that are universally recognizable, algorithms could be trained on a single person over many sessions, including their facial expressions, their voice and physiological measures like their heart rate, while accounting for the context of those data. Then you’d have better chances of developing reliable AI for that person, Barrett says. If such AI systems eventually can be made more effective, ethical issues still have to be addressed. In a newly published paper, Torous, Depp and others argue that, while AI has the potential to help identify mental problems more objectively, and it could even empower patients in their own treatment, first it must address issues like bias. During the training of some AI programs, when they are fed huge databases of personal information so they can learn to discern patterns in them, white people, men, higher-income people, or younger people are often overrepresented. As a result they might misinterpret unique facial features or a rare dialect.

WhatsApp Just Gave 2 Billion Users A Reason To Stay

The specter of regulation continues to hang over Facebook and its Big Tech rivals, but this has raised a different regulatory question: At what point does a privately held communication platform become a utility. Social media can be turned on or off with little consequence. But replacing regulated mobile networks with a multinational “over the top” that is used by almost everyone is a different deal. WhatsApp’s biggest victory—the reason it’s now on almost all our phones—was its displacement of SMS as the world’s most popular, most ubiquitous, messaging tool. The nearest equivalent is Apple’s iMessage in some markets, especially the U.S. But iMessage isn’t a separate platform from core, regulated messaging. And, more to the point, it’s owned by a product giant not a data-based advertising giant. WhatsApp’s numbers are interesting. While its penetration in Europe is strong, in the developing world it’s staggering. In Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Argentina, Malaysia, Colombia and Brazil it has secured more than 90% of total adult internet users. In most countries, WhatsApp is now the market leader. Think that through when next reading about WhatsApp’s shift into payments and shopping.

Insurance to Mitigate the Risk of AI Systems Coming into View

It’s not clear that AI software suppliers guarantee the accuracy of their algorithms, or that insurance companies cover the risks associated with AI products. Having insurance against AI risk could smooth the path to AI adoption. Among manufacturers trying out AI, many are stuck in “pilot purgatory”–not yet successfully scaling digital transformation. “Greater support for businesses looking to implement new solutions could help to improve the adoption rate,” Yoskovitch stated. Insurers could help enterprises at these three stages of AI adoption, Yoskovitch suggests ... AI failure models are an evolving area of research. “It is not possible to provide prescriptive technological mitigations,” the authors stated. Cyber insurance comes the closest, but is not a perfect fit. If bodily harm occurs because of an AI failure, such as if the image recognition system on an autonomous car fails to perform in snow or frost conditions, cyber insurance is not likely to cover the damage, although it may cover the losses from the interruption of business that results, the authors suggest. 

‘Back to human’: Why HR leaders want to focus on people again

Delivering a great employee experience relies on the same principles used in design thinking for products and services. Like skilled designers, CHROs are starting with the customer and working backward. Where there is a customer journey with its associated pain points, so there are career journeys in every big organization, each with its own identifiable moments of frustration. One thing HR leaders can do along these lines is to harness the energy and insight of their colleagues to increase engagement among new hires and current employees. Cisco, for instance, launched a 24-hour “breakathon” with more than 800 employees that used design-thinking principles to identify the moments that matter most in the interactions between HR and employees. This session led to a complete redesign of onboarding: YouBelong@Cisco, a full prototype solution that targeted common pain points for people starting careers at the company. HR leaders want to use these technologies to help customize and track the needs of each individual on the employee journey, whether that means advancing educational efforts, helping customers and clients to solve problems, supporting the development of colleagues, or simply being part of a great team.

Plea To ML Researchers: Give Data Curation A Chance

Many experts believe data must be used in their natural form to give an unvarnished output. While there is no problem with this argument, Rogers said, it needs more elaboration. “In that case, the “natural” distribution may not even be what we want: e.g. if the goal is a question answering system, then the “natural” distribution of questions asked in daily life (with most questions about time and weather) will not be helpful,” wrote Rogers. She further added there is still a lot of research work that needs to be done before developers can study the world as it is. Some developers feel their data is large enough for their training set to encompass the ‘entire data universe’. Rogers said collecting all data is impossible as it will pose legal, ethical, and practical challenges Meanwhile, many are in favour of developing algorithmic alternatives to data curation. As per Rogers, this is a good possibility; however, having such solutions, in the current scenario, could be a complementary approach to data curation rather than completely replacing it. A few experts believe data curation is part of the process and should not become a task big enough to forget the original purpose of developing a model.

Ultra-high-density hard drives made with graphene store ten times more data

Graphene enables two-fold reduction in friction and provides better corrosion and wear than state-of-the-art solutions. In fact, one single graphene layer reduces corrosion by 2.5 times. Cambridge scientists transferred graphene onto hard disks made of iron-platinum as the magnetic recording layer, and tested Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) – a new technology that enables an increase in storage density by heating the recording layer to high temperatures. Current COCs do not perform at these high temperatures, but graphene does. Thus, graphene, coupled with HAMR, can outperform current HDDs, providing an unprecedented data density, higher than 10 terabytes per square inch. “Demonstrating that graphene can serve as protective coating for conventional hard disk drives and that it is able to withstand HAMR conditions is a very important result. This will further push the development of novel high areal density hard disk drives,” said Dr Anna Ott from the Cambridge Graphene Centre, one of the co-authors of this study. A jump in HDDs’ data density by a factor of ten and a significant reduction in wear rate are critical to achieving more sustainable and durable magnetic data recording.

Implementing An Effective Intelligent Master Data Management Strategy

Since MDM is not a one-time implementation or cleansing exercise, business owners must own the data along with the business processes from various departments and units. The data governance process implemented must identify, measure, capture, and rectify data quality issues in the source system itself. In order to keep the strategy running, a formal model to manage said data as a strategic resource should comprise detailed business rules, data stewardship, data control, and compliance mechanisms. The governance aspect of data needs to be treated as part of daily responsibilities rather than a one-off initiative for it to be effective and supported by stakeholders or senior management. ... Before diving deep into the MDM implementation process, defining a future roadmap is crucial in showing how later stages will be accomplished, consistent with the strategic objectives of an organization. This ensures that your MDM exercise does not turn into a catastrophic event due to abject failures from structural flaws that corrupt your entire data system. Further, infuse upgrades, conduct regular testing on standard communication interfaces, and set benchmarks to quantify your KPI success, until they are proven to be stable before opening up the gates to the rest of your data stream.

Neuromorphic Chip: Artificial Neurons Recognize Biosignals in Real Time

The researchers first designed an algorithm that detects HFOs by simulating the brain’s natural neural network: a tiny so-called spiking neural network (SNN). The second step involved implementing the SNN in a fingernail-sized piece of hardware that receives neural signals by means of electrodes and which, unlike conventional computers, is massively energy efficient. This makes calculations with a very high temporal resolution possible, without relying on the internet or cloud computing. “Our design allows us to recognize spatiotemporal patterns in biological signals in real time,” says Giacomo Indiveri, professor at the Institute for Neuroinformatics of UZH and ETH Zurich. The researchers are now planning to use their findings to create an electronic system that reliably recognizes and monitors HFOs in real time. ... However, this is not the only field where HFO recognition can play an important role. The team’s long-term target is to develop a device for monitoring epilepsy that could be used outside of the hospital and that would make it possible to analyze signals from a large number of electrodes over several weeks or months.

Hardware buyers are scrambling to find chip shortage work-arounds

Because World Insurance runs most of its operations on a private cloud in their own data center, finding the servers they need to expand their operations is an ongoing battle. Before the chip shortage, they would primarily buy white label servers to add capacity. Now, they, like so many others, are sourcing servers from wherever they can find them. Many manufacturers are in the same boat, said Jens Gamperl, CEO of Sourcengine, an online marketplace for electronic components. Gamperl's customers are scrambling to find chips from any source—regardless of whether or not the supplier and its products have been vetted or not. ... To ensure some sort of quality control, manufacturers are asking Sourcengine to perform those functions. Price gouging also is a big issue. Parts that cost pennies pre-pandemic are now going for thousands of times more. "I came across, four weeks or five weeks ago, a situation where a 50 cent part was offered to us for $41," he said. For large businesses, these increased expenses shouldn't have a noticeable impact on the bottom line given the other expenses like travel went to zero, he said.

Hybrid work: How to prepare for the turnover tsunami

Among the multiple factors at play, according to the Prudential Financial survey, are employee concerns about career advancement. ... Additionally, the wide and rapid acceptance of remote work has opened up new job opportunities to work from anywhere. It's a perfect storm for creating some degree of turnover, says Brian Abrahamson, CIO and the associate laboratory director for communications and IT at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Lab. "We used to talk about the impacts of fear, uncertainty, and doubt on people. Add to this the impacts of burnout and isolation and you have a recipe for workforce chaos," Roberts says. "A question every CIO should be asking their people managers is, 'Are the recruiters who are trying to poach our people painting a better picture of a future working with their company than we are of ours?'" The time to start addressing anticipated turnover is now. "If you acknowledge that the risk factors affecting the likelihood of increased attrition in the near term are there, the first recommendation I would make is simple: Accept and prepare for it," says Selective Insurance CIO John Bresney.

Quote for the day:

"If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it." -- William James

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