Daily Tech Digest - August 01, 2023

Is generative AI mightier than the law?

The FTC hasn’t been shy in going after Big Tech. And in the middle of July, it took its most important step yet: It opened an investigation into whether Microsoft-backed OpenAI has violated consumer protection laws and harmed consumers by illegally collecting data, violating consumer privacy and publishing false information about people. In a 20-page letter sent by the FTC to OpenAI, the agency said it’s probing whether the company “engaged in unfair or deceptive privacy or data security practices or engaged in unfair or deceptive practices relating to risks of harm to consumers.” The letter made clear how seriously the FTC takes the investigation. It wants vast amounts of information, including technical details about how ChatGPT gathers data, how the data is used and stored, the use of APIs and plugins, and information about how OpenAI trains, builds, and monitors the Large Language Models (LLMs) that fuel its chatbot. None of this should be a surprise to Microsoft or ChatGPT. In May, FTC Chair Lina Khan wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times laying out how she believed AI must be regulated.

Four Pillars of Digital Transformation

The four principle was understanding your customers and your customer segments. that's number one. Second is aligning with your customers and your functional teams. Because you cannot do anything digital transformation in a silo. You can say, "Oh, Asif and Shane wants to digital transform this company and forget about what people A and people B are thinking. Shane and I are going to go and make that happen." We will fail. Not going to happen. That's where the cross-functional team alignment comes in. The third is influencing and understanding what the change is, why we want to do it, how we are going to do it. And what's in it, not for Shane, not for Asif. What's in it for you as a customer or as an organization? Again, showing the empathy and explaining the why behind it. And finally, communicating, communicating, communicating, over-communicating and celebrating success. To me, those are the big four pillars that we use to sell the idea of what the digital transformation is to at any level from a C-level, all the way to people at the store level. Can I explain them what's in it for them?

Scientists Seek Government Database to Track Harm from Rising 'AI Incidents'

Faced with mounting evidence of such harmful AI incidents, the FAS noted the government database could somewhat align with other trackers and efforts. "The database should be designed to encourage voluntary reporting from AI developers, operators, and users while ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive information," the FAS said. "Furthermore, the database should include a mechanism for sharing anonymized or aggregated data with AI developers, researchers, and policymakers to help them better understand and mitigate AI-related risks. The DHS could build on the efforts of other privately collected databases of AI incidents, including the AI Incident Database created by the Partnership on AI and the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies. This database could also take inspiration from other incident databases maintained by federal agencies, including the National Transportation Safety Board's database on aviation accidents." The group further recommended that the DHS should collaborate with the NIST to design and maintain the database, including setting up protocols for data validation categorization, anonymization, and dissemination.

Generative AI: Headwind or tailwind?

It's topping everyone's wish list, with influences converging from various directions: customers, staff members and corporate boards, all applying pressure to harness its potential in their respective markets. On the bright side, there's a unified objective: to make progress. The challenge, however, is that, like most early-stage technologies, the path forward with generative AI isn't as straightforward — there's a lot of ambiguity about what to do, how to do it or even where to start. The potential of generative AI surpasses mere cost-effectiveness and efficiency. It can fuel the generation of new ideas, fine-tune designs and facilitate the launch of new products. It could serve as your catalyst for innovation if you're bold enough to step into this new frontier. But where do you step first? Our approach is first to identify a problem or "missing." In the simplest explanation possible, envision a Venn diagram where one circle represents the new tech wave (generative AI) and the other represents your customer, their challenges, opportunities, tasks, pains and gains.

Hackers: We won’t let artificial intelligence get the better of us

Hackers who have adopted or who plan to adopt generative AI are most inclined to use Open AI’s ChatGPT ... Those that have taken the plunge are using generative AI technology in a wide variety of ways, with the most commonly used functions being text summarisation or generation, code generation, search enhancement, chatbots, image generation, data design, collection or summarisation, and machine learning. Within security research workflows specifically, hackers said they found generative AI most useful to automate tasks, analyse data, and identify and validate vulnerabilities. Less widely used applications included conducting reconnaissance, categorising threats, detecting anomalies, prioritising risk and building training models. Many hackers who are not native English speakers or not fluent in English are also using services such as ChatGPT to translate or write reports and bug submissions, and fuel more collaboration across national borders.

Your CDO Does More Than Just Protect Data

Influential CDOs who can collaborate without being perceived as aloof or arrogant stand out in the field. Balancing visionary thinking with practical implementation strategies is vital, and CDOs who instill purpose and forward-looking excitement within their teams create a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. These qualities are essential for unlocking the full potential of data leadership. ... With boards needing more depth of tech knowledge to oversee strategy, CDOs can be valuable directors. CDOs who can demonstrate experience in making data core to the company’s strategy or informing a transformational pivot for the business would bring a high amount of value to boardroom discussions. The opportunity to understand and see risks and opportunities through a board member’s eyes is an invaluable experience for a CDO, which not only helps the CDO to prepare for future board service but also gives your board members additional education about the future of data and what it can bring to your organization.

Data Warehouse Telemetry: Measuring the Health of Your Systems

At the heart of the data warehouse system, there is a pulse. This is the set of measures that indicate the system's performance -- its heartbeat, so to speak. This includes the measurements of system resources, such as disk reads and writes, CPU and memory utilization, and disk usage. These metrics are an indicator of how well the overall system is performing. It is important to measure to make sure that these metrics do not go too low or too high. When they go too low, it is an indicator that the system has been oversized and resources are being wasted. When they go too high, it is an indicator that the system is undersized and resources are nearing exhaustion. As the resources hit a critical level, overall performance can grind to a halt, freezing processes and negatively impacting the user experience. When a medical practitioner sees that a patient’s heart rate/pulse is too fast or too slow, they will provide several recommendations, including ongoing monitoring to see if the situation improves or changes to diet or exercise.

Reducing Generative AI Hallucinations and Trusting Your Data

Data has two dimensions. One is the actual value of the data and the parameter that it represents; for example, the temperature of an asset in a factory. Then, there is also the relational aspect of the data that shows how the source of that temperature sensor is connected to the rest of the other data generators. This value-oriented aspect of data and the relational aspect of that data are both important for quality, trustworthiness, and the history and revision and versioning of the data. There’s obviously the communication pipeline, and you need to make sure that where the data sources connect to your data platform has enough sense of reliability and security. Make sure the data travels with integrity and the data is protected against malicious intent. ... Generative AI is one of those foundational technologies like how software changed the world. Mark [Andreesen, a partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz] in 2011 said that software is eating the world, and software already ate the world. It took 40 years for software to do this. 

10 Reasons for Optimism in Cybersecurity

The new National Cybersecurity Strategy announced by the Biden Administration this year emphasizes the importance public-private collaboration. Google Cloud’s Venables anticipates that knowledge sharing between the public and private sectors will help enhance transparency around cyber threats and improve protection. “As public and private sector collaboration grows, in the next few years we’ll see deeper coordination between agencies and big tech organizations in how they implement cyber protections,” he says. The public and private sectors also have the opportunity to join forces on cybersecurity regulation. ... As the cybersecurity product market matures it will not only embrace secure-by-design and -default principles. XYPRO’s Tcherchian is also optimistic about the consolidation of cybersecurity solutions. “Cybersecurity consolidation integrates multiple cybersecurity tools and solutions into a unified platform, addressing the crowded and complex nature of the cybersecurity market,” he explains. 

Keeping the cloud secure with a mindset shift

Organizations developing software through cloud-based tools and environments must take additional care to adapt their processes. Adapting a “shift-left” approach for the continuous integration and continuous deployment CI/CD pipeline is particularly important. Traditionally, security checks were often performed towards the end of the development cycle. However, this reactive approach can allow vulnerabilities to slip through the cracks and reach production stages. The shift-left approach advocates for integrating security measures earlier in the development cycle. By doing so, potential security risks can be identified and mitigated early, preventing malware infiltration and reducing the cost and complexity of addressing security issues at later stages. This proactive approach aligns with the dynamic nature of cloud environments, ensuring robust security without hindering agility and innovation. Businesses should consider how they can mirror the shift-left ethos across their other cloud operations.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership offers an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life, no matter what the project." -- Bill Owens

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