Daily Tech Digest - November 12, 2023

The metaverse has virtually disappeared. Here's why it's generative AI's fault

"It's basically going through the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies," she says. "We've had the hype and now we're seeing the reality. The metaverse was capturing people's imagination. But we're still looking for proven use cases that are going to generate value." Searle's assertion that the metaverse is suffering a familiar fate to other over-hyped technologies is certainly one explanatory factor for the drop in interest in the metaverse. But another huge contributory factor is the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI). ... Of course, the rapid take up of generative AI isn't the only narrative in this story; there's a whole series of potential concerns, such as hallucinations, plagiarism, and ethics, that need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. But if you want to impress your family and friends with a tool that seems to work like magic, then generative AI is the one. On the other hand, the metaverse -- just like the blockchain before it -- feels a bit like a rabbit that's stuck in a magician's hat. Entering the metaverse often isn't as easy as its proponents have promised. 

Why the service industry needs blockchain, explained

The difficulty of integrating blockchain with existing infrastructure and processes is a significant obstacle. Because service providers frequently use a variety of platforms and technologies, achieving seamless integration can be difficult. It might be difficult to protect data security and privacy while still adhering to regulations. Blockchain’s transparency conflicts with the requirement to protect sensitive customer information, necessitating careful design and implementation of privacy measures. Another major challenge is establishing communication and data exchange across various blockchain networks and traditional systems. To facilitate seamless interoperability, service providers need to spend time developing standardized protocols, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Moreover, there are scalability concerns. Blockchain networks, especially public ones, may face limitations in handling a high volume of transactions efficiently. Delays and higher expenses may result from this, especially in service industries where several quick transactions are necessary.

Why developer productivity isn’t all about tooling and AI

Creative work requires some degree of isolation. Each time they sit down to code, developers build up context for what they’re doing in their head; they play a game with their imagination where they’re slotting their next line of code into the larger picture of their project so everything fits together. Imagine you’re holding all this context in your head — and then someone pings you on Slack with a small request. All the context you’ve built up collapses in that instant. It takes time to reorient yourself. It’s like trying to sleep and getting woken up every hour. ... Another factor that gets in the way of developer productivity is a lack of clarity on what engineers are supposed to be doing. If developers have to spend time trying to figure out the requirements of what they’re building while they’re building it, they’re ultimately doing two types of work: Prioritization and coding. These disparate types of work don’t mesh. Figuring out what to build requires conversations with users, extensive research, talks with stakeholders across the organization and other tasks well outside the scope of software development. 

Here’s What a Software Architect Does in an Agile Team

An architect is probably not a valid role on an agile team. I admit I have at times been overzealous with non-coding members of a dev team. The less militant version of this is to be aware of ‘pigs’ and ‘chickens’ in the agile sense. When making breakfast, chickens lay eggs but pigs literally have skin in the game. So only pigs should attend daily agile stand ups. There are three problems with the role of architect in classic agile. Think of these as Lutheran protestant theses nailed to the door — or more likely to the planning wall.There are no upfront design phases in agile. “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams”. An architect cannot be an approver and cause of delay. This leads to the idea that architectural know-how should be spread out amongst the other team members. This is often the case — however it elides the fact that architectural responsibility doesn’t fall to anyone, even if people feel they may be accountable. Remember your RACI matrix. Should all agile developers be architects in a project? This makes little sense, since architecture describes a singular plan. 

AI’s Ability to Reason: Statistics vs. Logic

As a simplistic existence proof that today’s AI does not reason with logic, consider the following problem in basic algebra which was given to Bing/OpenAI GPT to solve. The gist of the problem shown in the figure below is that there are two rectangles, each having the same height (though this detail is not clearly stated in the sourcing 6th grade math text) but different widths. Areas for each are given. The rectangles are positioned in the corresponding math text to suggest that they may be aggregated into a larger rectangle having a width that is the sum of the widths of the smaller rectangles — maybe as a hint toward length. The request to find the length (height) and widths is a test to see whether OpenAI’s GPT via Bing would determine if there are sufficient equations matching unknowns. There aren’t. GPT didn’t discover the number of equations is one too few. Instead, it attempted to find length and widths, and it responded suggesting it had successfully solved the math problem. Everything started to go amuck when the insufficiency of the number of equations matched to the number of unknowns was missed, and the third equation given above simply is a function of the other two.

Security Is EVERYBODY’s Business, But CISOs Need to Lead

Cybersecurity is not an audit or internal audit. There is a fine line of difference there. And as much as the CISO is seen as somewhat more of an enforcer, they need to be seen as an enabler to the business. CISOs need to have very direct, effective, and transparent communication with the board members when it comes to quantification of everything that they’re doing. And when I say quantification, what I mean is quantification of risks to the organization. Some of the board members will be closer to cybersecurity risks. Some of them may be closer to a reputational risk or a financial risk. But if a CSO can stitch that story together and quantify it for the audience of the board, I think that goes a long way. That’s what’s needed because, in the situation in the market that we are in right now, with the threat landscape changing, with new capabilities coming into play, I think it’s critical. CISOs need to ensure the message is articulated well in the boardroom.

How Agile Managers Use Uncertainty to Create Better Decisions Faster

Here's the problem I see with big, long-term, and final management decisions: the decision is too large to have any certainty at all. Remember I said I don't take long consulting engagements? Early in my consulting career, I learned that even a “guaranteed” consulting project was not a guarantee at all. Sure, the client might pay a kill fee (a portion of the unused project budget), but most of the time, the client said (on a Friday afternoon), “Thanks. The world has changed. Don't come back on Monday.” While I always continued my marketing so my business would survive, I felt as if the clients cheated themselves. Because we thought we had more time, we didn't create smaller goals and achieve them. Our work was incomplete—according to their goals. And that's what people remember. Not that they changed the circumstances, but that we didn't finish. That's exactly what happens when managers try to decide for a long time without revisiting their decisions. The world changes. If the world changes enough, the managers feel the need to lay people off, not just stop efforts. Those layoffs are a result of too-long and too-large management decisions.

Technical and digital debt can devastate your digital ambition

Of course, no organisation can afford zero technical debt (is this even possible?). The judgement here is targeting existing technical debt in a priority order. Deciding what not to do is just as important as what to do. You will be better able to manage the high expectations of stakeholders, shape the transformation and prioritise investment when you have this insight. Ask yourself these questions:What technical debt will act as an anchor when trying to increase the pace of change, irrespective of how fast your new IT engineering and product-based approaches to change are? Or to put it another way, which single piece of technical debt will limit the flow of value, irrespective of how slick everything else is? To be able to adapt at pace, at short notice, responding to market opportunities, where is your underlying technology strong but resistant to change? Customers just expect your digital channels to work; where must you improve the reliability of your service? Where can you increase cost effectiveness or risk mitigation through targeted automation as one of the treatment strategies available to you?

How AI and Crypto is Transforming the Future of Decentralized Finance

As time has passed, the crypto industry has evolved into a breeding ground for fraudulent activities and deception. Safeguarding investors from fraud has become increasingly vital, especially with the influx of initial coin offerings and new platforms entering the market. The encouraging news is that AI and crypto can effectively prevent fraud attempts and ensure that investors adhere to financial compliance. AI bots, for example, can detect and flag fraudulent transactions, preventing them from proceeding unless confirmed by a human. Confirming crypto transactions often takes up to 24 hours due to reliance on consensus methods. However, cases of transaction delays often pose a challenge for the crypto sector. With some recent advancements in AI technology, there have been some enhanced trade management options. Some companies are adopting innovative consensus methods that significantly reduce transaction times to just a few seconds. This improvement holds potential benefits for the 

Secure Together: ATO Defense for Businesses and Consumers

First off, businesses need to take the lead in forming a stronger partnership with their customers. This means educating both customers and employees on proper security measures. Websites operating with user accounts, engaging individuals and corporations, often find themselves in the crosshairs of swindlers intent on ATO. We mentioned above that phishing is a common tactic. It’s imperative to consistently enlighten customers and employees about the looming menace of online security breaches like phishing, including how phishing attempts trick people and tips for not getting tangled. Adopt a vigilant stance on security by ingraining robust preventive protocols, including routine password updates and providing guidelines for safeguarding user credentials. ... Training does not end there. The MGM Resorts cyberattack we cited above also involved a fraudster tricking a customer support help desk. Businesses must train their staff on how to stop these attempted breaches — for example, by knowing how to ask questions that only a legitimate account holder could know the answer to.

Quote for the day:

"You may be good. You may even be better than everyone esle. But without a coach you will never be as good as you could be." -- Andy Stanley

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