Daily Tech Digest - July 25, 2023

The real risk of AI in network operations

One who tried generative AI technology on their own historical network data said that it suggested a configuration change that, had it been made, would have broken the entire network. “The results were wrong a quarter of the time, and very wrong maybe an eighth of the time,” the operations manager said. “I can’t act on that kind of accuracy.” ... That raises my second point about a lack of detail on how AI reached a conclusion. I’ve had generative AI give me wrong answers that I recognized because they were illogical, but suppose you didn’t have a benchmark result to test against? If you understood how the conclusion was reached, you’d have a chance of picking out a problem. Users told me that this would be essential if they were to consider generative AI a useful tool. They don’t think, nor do I, that the current generative AI state of the art is there yet. What about the other, non-generative, AI models? There are well over two dozen operations toolkits out there that claim AI or AI/ML capability. Users are more positive on these, largely because they have a limited scope of action and leave a trail of decision-making steps that can be checked quickly.

Exploring an Agilist's Story of Perseverance

“There are a few things in technology that help people with MS because they have the same problem with speech, but they’re not really effective for me,” because you still have to go back and edit everything. If you are living with ataxia, “there is a group called the National Ataxia Foundation. It is a great support group; you don’t feel like you are going through this alone. They post things about technology and tools you can use,” Apuroopa said. She also recommends utilizing your HR resources if you have any need for accommodation. An accommodation request form may be the right way to access technology or request an adjustment or change in your work environment or duties based on a medical condition. Apuroopa’s employer offers a work-from-home option. “The remote environment adds complexity,” she said, because not everyone is willing to turn their cameras on for various reasons, and you end up missing that facial connection and body language, but she’s also thankful for the option to stay home.

A critical cybersecurity backup plan that too many companies are ignoring

With a departure of a CISO, there is a loss of valuable institutional knowledge, which can impede an organization’s ability to adapt to rapidly evolving cyber threats, said Daniel Soo, risk and financial advisory principal in cyber and strategic risk at consulting firm Deloitte. “The lack of a successor could disrupt business-as-usual cybersecurity operations, resulting in delays, gaps in critical cyber risk management activities, and hindered cyber incident response and decision-making,” Soo said. In addition, CISO succession planning is key to ensuring that an organization has the right person at the right time to help drive the organization’s cyber objectives, Soo said. ... CISO succession planning should also involve anticipating future security requirements by considering the evolving nature of the business and technology landscape. “CISOs should analyze the security implications of these trends and develop policies, technologies, and skills to address future needs,” he said. “Implementing a training program can help ensure that employees are equipped with the necessary skills to tackle upcoming security challenges.”

Bridging the cybersecurity skills gap through cyber range training

Cyber ranges take traditional cyber training and turn it into real-life, experiential learning so learners can actually apply their knowledge and skills and gain real experience using a simulation method. SOC analysts, who are the last line of defense, need to continually engage in these simulations to strengthen their capabilities and create “muscle memory.” An ongoing cyber range training program with real-life attacks enhances their preparedness as individuals and as a cohesive team through immersive experiences. One thing to note is that not all cyber ranges are equal to each other. They can vary in terms of their purpose, complexity, and available features, tools, and technology. To ensure your team is getting the most effective training, it’s critical to use a dynamic range with live-fire attacks that the whole team can participate in together, versus more of a directed lab environment or individual exercises that team members do in parallel. 

Why cyber security should be part of your ESG strategy

In fact, the investment community has been singling out cyber security as one of the major risks that ESG programmes will need to address due to the potential financial losses, reputational damage and business continuity risks posed by a growing number of cyber attacks and data breaches. Investment firm Nomura already takes into account an investee firm’s cyber security performance in its credit ESG scoring model, while KPMG noted in its report that cyber security is not only applicable to the governance aspects of ESG, but also has social and environmental implications. ... “That trust you want to build from a social standpoint comes from sound cyber security practices, so you can tell customers you’re taking the right steps to protect their identity and financial information,” he added. But even after organisations have identified aspects of their businesses that are at risk, building up their risk profile remains challenging as they are often unaware of what technology assets they have, coupled with the lack of efforts to assess technical risks, Wenzler said.

Boost your tech ROI with Engineering Effectiveness

Learnings from numerous agile, DevOps, and platform transformation projects have shown that the productivity of engineering teams in most organizations is around 30 percent of their total potential. Therefore, a whopping 70 percent improvement is possible, even necessary if you want to keep up with digital-native competitors. You can achieve this by investing in both technology and the development teams themselves. Create an environment equipped with the right platforms, methodologies, and workplace culture that makes teams more productive and helps them collaborate more efficiently. It's also vital to give developers the opportunity and resources to keep their skills up to date. ... The path to modernization is not only about allocating more resources, but fundamentally about transforming business processes and culture. Talent is better utilized when outdated and inefficient workflows are revised. A critical look at the organization, involving senior management, is essential to uncover all bottlenecks. Changing traditional work and thought patterns can be challenging. In such cases, external assistance coupled with tried-and-tested frameworks and tools can be of help. 

Social Intelligence Is the Next Big Step for AI

When it comes to being able to decipher nonverbal cues like body language or facial expressions, AI still lacks many of the social skills that many of us humans take for granted. To help AI develop those social skills, new work from Chinese researchers suggests that a multidisciplinary approach will be needed — such as adapting what we know about cognitive science, and using computational modeling would help us better identify the disparities between the social intelligence of machine learning models and their human counterparts. “[Artificial social intelligence or ASI] is distinct and challenging compared to our physical understanding of the work; it is highly context-dependent,” said first author Lifeng Fan of the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence (BIGAI) in a statement. “Here, context could be as large as culture and common sense, or as little as two friends’ shared experience. This unique challenge prohibits standard algorithms from tackling ASI problems in real-world environments, which are frequently complex, ambiguous, dynamic, stochastic, partially observable and multi-agent.”

Why Ambient Computing May Be the Next Big Trend

Ambient computing will become an everyday reality through the widespread adoption of connected devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advancements in artificial intelligence, Bilay predicts. “As these technologies become more sophisticated, affordable, and seamlessly integrated into our environments, ambient computing will permeate our homes, workplaces, and public spaces.” ... Bilay says users will need to remain vigilant about data protection. He cautions that ambient computing’s reliance on interconnected systems creates dependencies that could make users susceptible to service disruptions caused by technical failures or compatibility issues. Security is another major concern. “We’ve already seen cases in which an estranged spouse uses the smart thermostat or smart lighting to harass their ex,” Loukides says. When devices are networked, attacks could occur at a larger and more devastating scale. “We’re already familiar with ransomware,” he notes. “Could somebody extort a vendor like Honeywell or Nest because they’ve taken control over all the thermostats?”

Has generative AI quietly ushered in a new era of shadow IT on steroids?

There are dozens of great studies showing the dangers that come with shadow IT. A few of the concerns include decreased control over sensitive data, an increased attack surface, risk of data loss, compliance issues, and inefficient data analysis. Yes, there are many other security, privacy, and legal issues that can surface with shadow IT. But what concerns me the most is the astonishing growth in generative AI apps -- along with how fast these apps are being adopted for a myriad of reasons. Indeed, if the internet can best be described as an accelerator for both good and evil -- which I believe is true -- generative AI is supercharging that acceleration in both directions. Many are saying that the adoption of generative AI apps is best compared to the early days of the internet, with the potential for unparalleled global growth. ... If you're questioning whether generative AI apps qualify as shadow IT, as always it depends on your situation. If the application is appropriately licensed and all the data stays within the confines of your organization's secure control, generative AI can fit neatly into your enterprise portfolio of authorized apps.

What Is a Modern Developer?

The desire to simplify one's life, automate everything, and solve problems is the key thing that drives many modern developers. If this desire sounds familiar, then you are a developer. In the near future, you may only need to think of what the code should be and then you can write it out in sentences — aka a prompt engineer. This is coming so quickly that this future could be Tuesday. The heterogeneous nature of data, data producers, applications, and services that drives everyone to be a developer also highlights the importance of developers. We need to build applications and other things since there are so many diverse applications and systems that need to be joined together to solve an entire real-world requirement. ... The number of activities a developer has to do in modern development today goes beyond just designing, creating, building, testing, and deploying applications. Often in today’s resource-constrained environments, a common additional role is to gather and translate user requirements into buildable assets. Responsibilities also include internationalization, monitoring, managing, extracting data, and more.

Quote for the day:

“When people are financially invested, they wanta return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” -- Simon Sinek

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