Daily Tech Digest - June 14, 2021

How and Why Enterprises Must Tackle Ethical AI

Explainability can also help humans who must work with algorithmic findings that don't seem to make sense at first glance. For instance, Cloudera Fast Forward Labs has a prototype available that predicts churn for telecom providers looking to predict which customers are at risk to drop the service. The machine learning model found that one of the most important factors in whether someone would leave is whether they have a high degree of complaints about the service. But it's not the complainers who are at risk of leaving. Actually, the opposite is true. The complainers are the ones who are planning to stay for one reason or another, so they have a higher stake in the quality of the service being good. That's why they complain. They care about the service improving. The ones without the high stake just leave if when they are dissatisfied. That's important to know if you are a service representative who is empowered to offer incentives to customers at risk for churn. Creating explainability is among several important steps enterprises must embed in their artificial intelligence operations in order to make responsible, ethical AI a part of doing business. A key to making it work is to ensure that these steps are part of the overall AI process.

The Engineer’s Guide to Writing Meaningful Code Comments

In most cases, you aren’t the only person working on the same project or codebase. That means that other people get to read your code and have to understand it. That’s also true for the code comments you leave behind. Developers often write ‘quick and dirty’ comments without much context, leaving other developers clueless about what you’re trying to say. It’s a bad practice that creates only more confusion than clarifies things. So, yes - you should be bothered with writing meaningful code comments to help other developers. A code comment that describes the function, the reasoning behind the function, and its input and output will speed up the learning process of other developers. Especially for junior developers, this information comes in handy when learning the code. On the other hand, code comments lead us to the discussion whether we should write them? There’s a significant group of developers that advocate against writing code comments. The reason being that code should be self-explanatory. If another developer can’t understand the purpose of your code by looking at it, it’s bad code. 

Why quantum computers are a risk to your business today, and what you can do about it

We can’t be sure which quantum-safe algorithms NIST will standardise and because these algorithms are still relatively new, you may not want to completely do away with today’s standards. After all, quantum computers are still too primitive to break current encryption standards, so using today’s methods is still an effective way to protect against current info security threats. Therefore, as we make the transition to quantum-safe security, it’s important to practice ‘crypto-agility’. Crypto-agility is the process of understanding what existing cryptographic measures can be migrated over to quantum-ready solutions. ... This crypto-agile approach will offer greater assurance against both traditional attacks and future threats. This is vital as many devices, systems and applications that rely on encryption for security are now looking to be deployed and are expected to have a lifespan of over 10 years – if these aren’t cryptographically agile enough to deal with a future quantum attack, organisations will leave themselves vulnerable in the future.

Inclusion Has to Be Continuous

A leader’s job is to create an environment where people can be challenged, and also show that they can be wrong. What my manager did afterwards on my first job was he went to his peers and to our whole team and said, "You know, you basically showed that I'm an idiot, I should have asked." He showed vulnerability; humans can make mistakes. By revealing this, he created safety. What I try to do now too, is now that I have the title and the authority, I really encourage my team to question me, because that's the only way a good idea becomes a great idea. I get them maybe too comfortable in challenging me. But that way I can create the safety we need. We need to have these open dialogues and conversations, showing that when someone asks a question, it's respected. It's not thought of as something “stupid”, it's about asking questions and showing immediate action to help. Literally, I had a new bathroom within a week; that demonstrated this was no longer lip service. It's about creating safety for people to speak up and take immediate action, whether you can or can't do it, giving them an immediate response to why. And then it becomes safe to ask for help. When leaders ask for help, it shows we all need help.

The Future of Work is in for a (Gigantic) Change

With the advancement of work-from-home culture and future migration to four weekdays and hybrid working models, there would also be a rethinking needed on the large corporate offices. On one hand, people do not want to be in a crowded office space and would prefer odd-even type models, on the other hand, it’s not as easy to set up work from the home office if you do not have additional bedrooms, dedicated space, childcare options, and a large home overall and not everyone has that. Also, there is a need for most companies where they encourage their own employees to interact more for enhanced output and peer learning and competition. This would bring open many corporate offices to be accessible as co-working spaces to everyone looking for innovation, learning, and collaboration. Highly likely that the co-working industry will be back with a big bang as they make possible the dream of office next door or walk to the office culture. In fact, co-working companies may be the new commercial real estate aggregators as there may be many new collaborations underway between corporate offices and co-working companies, to drive the abundantly existing commercial infrastructure into good use.

Fighting Half-Blind Against Ransomware Won't Work

To tackle the ransomware information-sharing gap, the cybersecurity industry should establish the RIRN, as called for in the Ransomware Task Force report. The RIRN would serve several functions, including the receipt and sharing of incident reports, directing organizations to incident response services, aggregating data, and sharing alerts about ongoing threats. The RIRN should develop standard reporting formats based on existing standards to make automated sharing possible, and it should adopt business processes that avoid double-counting data, protect privacy, and focus on the value proposition to participants. This network should include nonprofits, cybersecurity vendors, insurance providers, incident responders, and government agencies. A functioning RIRN would help close the information gap that inhibits our response to ransomware. We should build such a network based on the lessons learned from past information sharing initiatives, thereby avoiding the usual flaws that undermine such efforts. The cybersecurity industry shouldn't wait for the government to take the lead. We can create the network now and invite governments to join something that already exists.

IoT cloud services: How they stack up against DIY

Beyond their own services, the strategy adopted by the cloud vendors is to build a rich ecosystem of partnerships, marketplaces, development platforms, and APIs, so that they can offer as much flexibility and as many pathways as possible—as long as the data that requires higher-level processing eventually ends up in their cloud, says Dilip Sarangan, senior director of research at Frost & Sullivan. Neil Shah, vice-president at Counterpoint Research, says that the major cloud players are offering fully managed, end-to-end IoT deployments for “maximum value capture.” But they are also covering their bases by offering open interfaces and partnering with other players in response to enterprise concerns about vendor lock-in. This “have it your way” approach makes sense when you consider the vastly different types of IoT scenarios and the different types of data generated by connected cars, smart cities, smart homes, manufacturing, verticals like oil and gas or healthcare, video surveillance, etc. Dubrova adds that the one thing the cloud vendors lack is domain expertise in specific verticals. “Cloud vendor analytics toolsets tend to be very horizontal and limited—that is where partnerships are playing a key differentiation role.”

Cybersecurity Beyond The Enterprise: The Top Tips Everyone Should Know

With an increasingly remote workforce, many companies are allowing employees to use their personal phones or laptops for business purposes, and people are using their work devices for personal use, too. These practices became more common during the pandemic, and they open up the door for cybercriminals to steal both personal and corporate data at the same time. Keeping your devices separate is just good practice. That way, if one device gets infected, you have a backup and you haven’t jeopardized both your personal data and your company's security. It’s worth saying three times because the majority of people aren’t listening. Using strong passwords that are complex and unique to each account is the No. 1 way to prevent cyberattacks. A Google-Harris Poll found that 24% of Americans admit to using the word "password" or "123456" to secure their accounts. A whopping 66% say they reuse the same password across multiple accounts. It’s such a problem that Google announced recently that it will enable two-factor authentication by default, automatically pushing users to take extra security steps.

Global Trends That Will Affect Digital Lending And Payments In India

To the online transactions ecosystem, blockchain has been lauded as a technology that will revolutionise the space. Maximising efficiency with exceptional features that include transparency, traceability and enhanced accessibility. Blockchain will be able to provide a high level of security when it comes to the exchange of money and sensitive information, allowing users to draw off its transparency while lowering operational costs and creating an environment for safe real-time transfers. India is the biggest market for remittances, with over $62 Bn sent to India from abroad in 2016. Yet, according to Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999 (FEMA) only an authorized person/entity under the legislation may deal in foreign exchange. However, with incorporation of blockchain and smart contracts the use case of international remittance for blockchain technology will prove to be a promising proposition for the Indian market. India is the biggest market for remittances, with over $62 Bn sent to India from abroad in 2016. .

Edge Computing in Plain English With Lori MacVittie

There's a lot of devices and sensors that are monitoring equipment. I don't know if you've ever been on the floor of a foundry of a manufacturing plant that makes, say, toilet paper, because there's a lot of that in my area. There are the machines that have taken over to actually do most of that work are incredible, right? They do almost everything, but they also need constant supervision. Who knew machines need supervision? There are sensors and monitors that are constantly gathering information, data about the temperature, about the operation, how much oil is in this one, does this need lubrication? How long has it been working? All that data has to go somewhere to basically to the edge. There's an application, that's gathering it all, analyzing it and sending out warnings or, "Hey, it's almost time for maintenance", right? Whatever. But it's also a point of alert. If something happens, it can also turn off a machine which, when you have people and machines mixed together, especially if you're cutting things like cardboard or paper, there's a potential for a real harm to be done. So, they have to be able to react and say, "Turn that off now. Stop that. Alert someone”. So, they need to be able to react very quickly. That is not something you want to have disassociated from the actual location.

Quote for the day:

"The problem with being a leader is that you're never sure if you're being followed or chased." -- Claire A. Murray

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