Daily Tech Digest - August 08, 2021

The Role of Artificial Consciousness in AI Systems

What this means is that AI programs having common sense may not be enough to deal with un-encountered situations because it’s difficult to know the limits of common sense knowledge. It may be that artificial consciousness is the only way to ascribe meaning to the machine. Of course, artificial consciousness will be different to the human variant. Philosophers like Descartes, Daniel Dennett, and the physicist Roger Penrose and many others have given different theories of consciousness about how the brain produces thinking from neural activity. Neuroscience tools like fMRI scanners might lead to a better understanding of how this happens and enable a move to the next level of humanizing AI. But that would involve confronting what the Australian philosopher, David Chalmers, calls the hard problem of consciousness – how can subjectivity emerge from matter? Put another way, how can subjective experiences emerge from neuron activity in the brain? Furthermore, our understanding of human consciousness can only be understood through our own inner experience – the first-person perspective. 

Creating a Quality Strategy

Some teams might prefer to do ad-hoc exploratory testing with minimal documentation. Other teams might have elaborate test case management systems that document all the tests for the product. And there are many other options in between. Whatever you choose should be right for your team and right for your product. ... On some teams, the developers write the unit tests, and the testers write the API and UI tests. On other teams, the developers write the unit and API tests, and the testers create the UI tests. Even better is to have both the developers and the testers share the responsibility for creating and maintaining the API and UI tests. In this way, the developers can contribute their code management expertise, while the testers contribute their expertise in knowing what should be tested. ... Some larger companies may have dedicated security and performance engineers who take care of this testing. Small startups might have only one development team that needs to be in charge of everything.

It's time to improve Linux's security

Believe it or not, many vendors, especially in the Internet of Things (IoT), choose not to fix anything. Sure, they could do it. Several years ago, Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator, pointed out that "in theory, open-source [IoT devices] can be patched. In practice, vendors get in the way." Cook remarked, with malware here, botnets there, and state attackers everywhere, vendors certainly should protect their devices, but, all too often, they don't. "Unfortunately, this is the very common stance of vendors who see their devices as just a physical product instead of a hybrid product/service that must be regularly updated." Linux distributors, however, aren't as neglectful. They tend to "'cherry-pick only the 'important' fixes. But what constitutes 'important' or even relevant? Just determining whether to implement a fix takes developer time." It hasn't helped any that Linus Torvalds has sometimes made light of security issues. For example, in 2017, Torvalds dismissed some security developers' [as] "f-cking morons." He didn't mean to put all security developers in the same basket, but his colorful language set the tone for too many Linux developers.

Creating a Secure REST API in Node.js

As an open-source, Node.js is sponsored by Joyent, a cloud computing and Node.js best development provider. The firm financed several other technologies, like the Ruby on Rails framework, and implemented hosting duties to Twitter and LinkedIn. LinkedIn also became one of the first companies to use Node.js to create a new project for its mobile application backend. The technology was next selected by many technology administrators, like Uber, eBay, and Netflix. Though, it wasn’t until later that wide appropriation of server-side JavaScript with Node.js server began. The investment in this technology crested in 2017, and it is still trending on the top. Node.js IDEs, the most popular code editor, has assistance and plugins for JavaScript and Node.js, so it simply means how you customize IDE according to the coding requirements. But, many Node.js developers praise specific tools from VS Code, Brackets, and WebStorm. Exercising middleware over simple Node.js best development is a general method that makes developers’ lives more comfortable. 

In a world first, South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system

At first glance, a recently granted South African patent relating to a “food container based on fractal geometry” seems fairly mundane. The innovation in question involves interlocking food containers that are easy for robots to grasp and stack. On closer inspection, the patent is anything but mundane. That’s because the inventor is not a human being – it is an artificial intelligence (AI) system called DABUS. ... The granting of the DABUS patent in South Africa has received widespread backlash from intellectual property experts. The critics argued that it was the incorrect decision in law, as AI lacks the necessary legal standing to qualify as an inventor. Many have argued that the grant was simply an oversight on the part of the commission, which has been known in the past to be less than reliable. Many also saw this as an indictment of South Africa’s patent procedures, which currently only consist of a formal examination step. This requires a check box sort of evaluation: ensuring that all the relevant forms have been submitted and are duly completed.

Ford's new BlueCruise hands-off driving feature is a solid first effort

It keeps the vehicle in the center of the lane, but with a little too much urgency. It's not a safety issue, but to a driver unfamiliar with what's going on, the steering movements are a little too frequent and a little too jerky. I can tell that the computer is working really hard to keep the car centered at all times — I compared it a 16-year old driver who was still learning the ropes and wasn't quite confident in their abilities, making frequent, jerky input adjustments as they drive along rather than smoother, more practiced inputs that an experienced driver would make. It isn't necessary to always be centered exactly in the lane, after all — an experienced driver knows that drifting a few inches to the left or right is normal. I said to the Ford engineers that most people probably wouldn't notice the tiny steering inputs, but they might lose confidence in the system because of it, even if they couldn't quite put their finger on why. Future releases will improve on it, I'm sure. BlueCruise also isn't (yet) aware of anything going on to the side or behind the vehicle.

Critical Cobalt Strike bug leaves botnet servers vulnerable to takedown

Cobalt Strike is a legitimate security tool used by penetration testers to emulate malicious activity in a network. Over the past few years, malicious hackers—working on behalf of a nation-state or in search of profit—have increasingly embraced the software. For both defender and attacker, Cobalt Strike provides a soup-to-nuts collection of software packages that allow infected computers and attacker servers to interact in highly customizable ways. The main components of the security tool are the Cobalt Strike client—also known as a Beacon—and the Cobalt Strike team server, which sends commands to infected computers and receives the data they exfiltrate. An attacker starts by spinning up a machine running Team Server that has been configured to use specific “malleability” customizations, such as how often the client is to report to the server or specific data to periodically send. Then the attacker installs the client on a targeted machine after exploiting a vulnerability, tricking the user or gaining access by other means.

Test Debt Fundamentals: What, Why & Warning Signs

Test Debt is hard to measure factually, but we can rely on our human capacity to detect, feel and react to warning signs. For test automation, we can sense organizational behaviors and specific test automation attributes. Let’s get back to the Why of our automated tests. One objective of our test automation effort is to accelerate the delivery of software changes with confidence. The test automation value disappears when the team starts to bypass the test automation campaign, search for alternative routes, ask for exceptions. Various reasons are possible as a long execution time, instability, lack of understanding, or other maintainability criteria. The execution time is directly tied to essential indicators of software delivery: lead-time for changes, cycle-time, and MTTA. These metrics are all part of the Accelerate report, correlating the organization’s performance with these measures. We need to constraint our test execution time to limit its impact on these acceleration metrics. For test automation, it means less but more valuable tests executed faster. 

Systems of systems: The next big step for edge AI

SoS will allow autonomous or semi-autonomous systems to control and respond to data flows. In the defense sector, for example, it will connect the data dots gathered from weather analysis, radars, and video surveillance to provide either the quickest path for a missile, or the best way to intercept it. Separately, a train technology provider that delivers transportation as a service need to unify the subsystems in a train and in a train station, expediting failure flagging and repairs to reduce costly service delays. In each case, a system of systems will inform or replace human decision-making, leading to faster, smarter, and more precise insights. ... It’s no stretch to say that edge AI-powered systems of systems will change society as we know it. Like bees working together to build and maintain a hive, algorithms in a SoS will form a swarm. Cars that can communicate with each other will be collectively smarter and safer than any individual car. Inside one vehicle, a SoS will coordinate navigation and telematics while independently gathering live weather and traffic data from roads.

Mainframes: The Missing Link To AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

The power of AI for mainframes does not have to be about creating projects. For example, there are emerging AIOps tools that help automate the systems. Some of the benefits include improved performance and availability, increased support speed for application releases and the DevOps process, and the proactive identification of issues. Such benefits can be essential since it is increasingly more difficult to attract qualified IT professionals. According to a recent survey from Forrester and BMC, about 81% of the respondents indicated that they rely partially on manual processes when dealing with slowdowns and 75% said they use manual labor for diagnosing multisystem incidents. In other words, there is much room for improvement—and AI can be a major driver for this. “Mainframe decision makers are becoming more aware than ever that the traditional way of handling mainframe operations will soon fall by the wayside,” said John McKenny, who is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intelligent Z Optimization and Transformation at BMC. 

Quote for the day:

"Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want." -- Dianne Feinstein

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