Daily Tech Digest - August 08, 2022

Can Data Collection Persist Amid Post-Roe Privacy Questions?

The Supreme Court decision pushed data privacy discussions to the forefront once more, says Christine Frohlich, head of data governance at Verisk Marketing Solutions. “Those of us who have been working in the data industry have been thinking about this for a long time,” she says. “The regulations we’re seeing in California, and now what we’re seeing in Colorado, Connecticut, Virginia, and Utah have made this a real hot topic within our industry.” Companies have a fundamental responsibility, Frohlich says, to protect consumer privacy to the best of their ability. Customers may enjoy personalized experiences such as a digital interaction with a brand or having products marketed to them in a personal way, but she says they are also concerned about how their data is used. Federal legislation on data privacy might move forward faster in response to the Supreme Court decision, Frohlich says. The “right to be forgotten,” or a deletion requirement is flowing through state legislation and what is being proposed potentially on a federal perspective, she says. 

Can fintech innovation be a force for good social impact?

Putting purpose over profits requires fintech innovation to have some social purpose other than making money and just being a ‘good’ fintech, and we know that consumers are now actively looking for this purpose when choosing their financial institution. At the same time, modern consumers value experience over things and wish for fintechs to be more people-centric. Fintechs often create competitive advantage by being able to tailor offerings for niche markets. Consumers appreciate the personal approach, feel like they’re supporting positive change, and are increasingly looking for companies that align better with their values. If another financial institution does this in a better way, they won’t hesitate to switch providers. ... We know what makes a ‘good’ fintech, but a fintech that is a force for good needs to be reaching wider than the immediate financial communities needs. Fintechs can be innovative in their approaches and therefore have the ability and potential to help people in need. We’re already seeing examples of this where fintechs have encouraged financial inclusion,

Post-Quantum Safe Algorithm Candidate Cracked in an Hour on a PC

SIKE was among several algorithms that passed a NIST competition to identify and define standardized post-quantum algorithms. Because quantum computers represent a threat to current measures for securing information and data, the organization wanted to pinpoint algorithms that stood the best chance of withstanding attacks from quantum computers. In a blog post, Steven Galbraith, a University of Auckland mathematics professor and a leading cryptographic expert, explains how they accomplished the hack: “The attack exploits the fact that SIDH has auxiliary points and that the degree of the secret isogeny is known. The auxiliary points in SIDH have always been an annoyance and a potential weakness, and they have been exploited for fault attacks, the GPST adaptive attack, torsion point attacks, etc.” It’s not the end for SIKE. There may be ways to modify the algorithm to withstand these specific types of attacks. However, in an Ars Technica story, Jonathan Katz, professor in the department of computer science at the University of Maryland, said the news that a classical computer could crack an encryption scheme meant to be safe from quantum devices is troubling.

Infrastructure as a Code—Why Drift Management Is Not Enough

One of the most efficient ways of eliminating configuration drift is adopting infrastructure-as-code principles and using solutions such as Terraform. Instead of manually applying changes to sync the environments, which is inherently an error-prone process, you would define the environments using code. Code is clear, and is applied/run the same on any number of resources, without the risk of omitting something or reversing the order of some operations. By leveraging code versioning (e.g Git), an infrastructure-as-code platform also provides a detailed record, including both present and past configuration, which removes the issue of undocumented modifications and leaves an audit trail as an added bonus. Tools like Terraform, Pulumi, and Ansible are designed for configuration management and can be used to identify and signal drift, sometimes even correcting it automatically—so you get the chance of making things right before they have a real impact on your systems. As with any tool, the outcome depends on how you’re using it. Using a tool like Terraform does not make your company immune to configuration drift by itself.

Why Israel is moving to quantum computing

Quantum computing at scale is expected to revolutionize a range of industries, as it has the potential to be exponentially faster than classical computers at specific applications. Both China and the United States, among others, have already started national initiatives for this new paradigm. Israel launched its own initiative in 2018, for which in February it announced a $62 million budget. Israel is also placing bets on quantum. The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) has selected Quantum Machines to establish its national Quantum Computing Center. It will host Israel’s first fully functional quantum computers for commercial and research applications. ... According to Quantum Machines, the Center’s computers will have a full-stack software and hardware platform capable of running any algorithm out of the box, including quantum error correction and multi-qubit calibration. As quantum computing is notorious for the various distinct approaches for creating qubits, the platform will also enable multiple qubit technologies, so that the center does not have to bet everything on one technology that perhaps may not turn out to be successful, which reduces the risk.

Meta is putting its latest AI chatbot on the web for the public to talk to

By releasing the chatbot to the general public, Meta wants to collect feedback on the various problems facing large language models. Users who chat with BlenderBot will be able to flag any suspect responses from the system, and Meta says it’s worked hard to “minimize the bots’ use of vulgar language, slurs, and culturally insensitive comments.” Users will have to opt in to have their data collected, and if so, their conversations and feedback will be stored and later published by Meta to be used by the general AI research community. “We are committed to publicly releasing all the data we collect in the demo in the hopes that we can improve conversational AI,” Kurt Shuster, a research engineer at Meta who helped create BlenderBot 3, told The Verge. ... Crucially, says Mary Williamson, a research engineering manager at Facebook AI Research (FAIR), while Tay was designed to learn in real time from user interactions, BlenderBot is a static model. That means it’s capable of remembering what users say within a conversation  but this data will only be used to improve the system further down the line.

Computer Science Proof Unveils Unexpected Form of Entanglement

A striking new proof in quantum computational complexity might best be understood with a playful thought experiment. Run a bath, then dump a bunch of floating bar magnets into the water. Each magnet will flip its orientation back and forth, trying to align with its neighbors. It will push and pull on the other magnets and get pushed and pulled in return. Now try to answer this: What will be the system’s final arrangement? This problem and others like it, it turns out, are impossibly complicated. With anything more than a few hundred magnets, computer simulations would take a preposterous amount of time to spit out the answer. Now make those magnets quantum—individual atoms subject to the byzantine rules of the quantum world. As you might guess, the problem gets even harder. “The interactions become more complicated,” said Henry Yuen of Columbia University. “There’s a more complicated constraint on when two neighboring ‘quantum magnets’ are happy.” These simple-seeming systems have provided exceptional insights into the limits of computation, in both the classical and quantum versions. 

What is a QPU and how will it drive quantum computing?

A QPU, aka a quantum processor, is the brain of a quantum computer that uses the behaviour of particles like electrons or photons to make certain kinds of calculations much faster than processors in today’s computers. QPUs rely on behaviours like superposition, the ability of a particle to be in many states at once, described in the relatively new branch of physics called quantum mechanics. By contrast, CPUs, GPUs and DPUs all apply principles of classical physics to electrical currents. That’s why today’s systems are called classical computers. ... Thanks to the complex science and technology, researchers expect the QPUs inside quantum computers will deliver amazing results. They are especially excited about four promising possibilities. First, they could take computer security to a whole new level. Quantum processors can factor enormous numbers quickly, a core function in cryptography. That means they could break today’s security protocols, but they can also create new, much more powerful ones. In addition, QPUs are ideally suited to simulating the quantum mechanics of how stuff works at the atomic level. 

What metaverse infrastructure can bring to hospitals

When it comes to the most prominent use cases being explored alongside Avanade in the aim to drive value, this depends on the operational areas and scenarios being mapped out, according to dos Anjos. It’s vital that implementation is conducted in line with the specific needs and goals of each client. “Today, the most common demands are for remote assistance, and guided assistance,” he said. “Another common scenario being looked at is helping doctors prep for surgery. This is aided via a surgical plane powered by Microsoft HoloLens, which includes a 3D projection of the patient and all the data necessary in one interface. Users can interact with this without needing to touch anything.” For Amaral, opportunities in this trending area of tech can also expand to education purposes, with medical school lecturers being able to record footage of surgeries for students to view and interact with. “This would provide a 360-degree view of the surgery and allow students to zoom in and out where needed,” he explained. “This makes for a more immersive experience for medical students.”

IT leadership: You gotta have H.E.A.R.T.

Today’s best digital leaders have adapted their leadership playbooks for the times. If you go back and listen to the Tech Whisperers podcast episodes, you’ll hear the same themes and the same leadership wisdom over and over again. What’s the common denominator? Humility, Empathy, Adaptability, Resilience, and Transparency: H.E.A.R.T. There’s something palpable in how the CIOs I've spoken to balance high EQ leadership, holding people accountable, having the hard conversations, and delivering results. These are business-first executives who anticipate, innovate, and drive results – and they don’t get distracted by bright shiny objects. ... “As a leader, it’s important to understand that no one person, group, or culture has all the knowledge, skills, or information necessary for success in business,” Smith says. “That’s why at ELC we always say that people are our greatest asset. Diversity – not just in backgrounds but in experiences and perspectives – results in greater innovation and better problem-solving across an organization.”

Quote for the day:

"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall." -- Stephen Covey

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