Daily Tech Digest - November 26, 2023

European Commission Failing to Tackle Spyware, Lawmakers Say

As that deadline looms, lawmakers accused the European Commission of failing to act. On Thursday, they passed a resolution that attempts to force the European Commission to present the legislative changes recommended in May by the PEGA Committee. At a plenary session in Strasbourg, EU lawmakers said that the European Commission's inaction had facilitated an uptick in recent spyware cases. Such cases have included the alleged targeting of exiled Russian journalist Galina Timchenko using Pegasus when she was based in Germany, as well as the Greek government's attempt to thwart investigations into spyware abuse by its ministers. In contrast to the EU approach, lawmakers highlighted the U.S. government's blacklisting in July of European spyware firms Intellexa and Cytrox and the Biden administration's citing of the companies' risk to U.S. national security and foreign policy. Speaking at the Thursday plenary, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders condemned using spyware to illegally intercept personal communications, adding that member states cannot use "national security" as a legal basis to circumvent existing laws and indiscriminately target their citizens.

Mastering the art of differentiation: Vital competencies for thriving in the age of artificial intelligence

With AI designed to make decisions using algorithms grounded in data and patterns, these algorithms are only as dependable as the data they are trained on and can be influenced by the assumptions and biases of their creators. Consequently, it is imperative to employ critical thinking skills to assess AI decisions and guarantee that they align with our values and objectives. Moreover, critical thinking is essential for resolving complex issues that may exceed AI’s capabilities. Developing critical thinking skills involves cultivating the ability to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information to make informed decisions. ... In this rapidly evolving modern landscape, heavily influenced by digital technologies, cultivating a high LQ is indispensable for the long-term success and sustainability of both employees and organizations. In the business world, change is constant, making continuous learning and development essential at every level of the organization to ensure we consistently make the right decisions. High LQ empowers employees to foster innovation and creativity, cultivate resilience, and position themselves more effectively to future-proof their careers. 

Digital advocacy group criticizes current scope of the EU AI Act

The group’s core argument is that the AI Act now goes beyond its original intended scope, and should instead remain focused on high-risk use cases, rather than being directed at specific technologies. Digital Europe also warned that the financial burden the Act could place on companies wanting to bring AI-enabled products to market could make operating out of the EU unstainable for smaller organizations. “For Europe to become a global digital powerhouse, we need companies that can lead on AI innovation also using foundation models and GPAI (general-purpose AI),” the statement read. “As European digital industry representatives, we see a huge opportunity in foundation models, and new innovative players emerging in this space, many of them born here in Europe. Let’s not regulate them out of existence before they get a chance to scale, or force them to leave.” The letter was signed by 32 members of Digital Europe and outlined four recommendations that signatories believe would allow the Act to strike the necessary balance between regulation and innovation.

HR Leaders unleashing retention success through employee well-being

“The pandemic brought the discourse on mental health to the forefront and normalised talk about stress and mental health in all forums. Accordingly, a formalised framework to address the mental health of employees has been put in place. Wellness webinars on these topics are delivered through tie-ups with service providers and in-house subject matter experts. Webinars on mental health are regularly organised with an aim to destigmatise mental health through increasing awareness on topics such as mental health awareness, digital & screen detox and, stress management, etc. We continuously work on instituting policies that are customised as per the individual and life-stage needs of the employees. An employee assistance program, in tie-up with a service provider, is in place to facilitate mental health conversations with qualified professionals. In addition, the employees are nudged to incorporate habits that help take care of their mental well-being as an unconscious part of their lives. Initiatives such as the 'Mental Health Bingo’ card and ‘I De-stress myself by __’ campaigns are launched. 

How generative AI changes the data journey

We see generative AI used in the observability space throughout many industries, especially regarding compliance. Let’s look at healthcare, an industry where you must comply with HIPAA. You are dealing with sensitive information, generating tons of data from multiple servers, and you must annotate the data with compliance tags. An IT team might see a tag that says, “X is impacting 10.5.34 from GDPR…” The IT team may not even know what 10.5.34 means. This is a knowledge gap—something that can very quickly be fulfilled by having generative AI right there to quickly tell you, “X event happened, and the GDPR compliance that you’re trying to meet by detecting this event is Y…” Now, the previously unknown data has turned into something that is human readable. Another use case is transportation. Imagine you’re running an application that’s gathering information about flights coming into an airport. A machine-generated view of that will include flight codes and airport codes. Now let’s say you want to understand what a flight code means or what an airport code means. Traditionally, you would use a search engine to inquire about specific flight or airport codes. 

Banks May Be Ready for Digital Innovation: Many of the Staff Aren’t

A major roadblock to training workers is that many don’t actually bank with their employer. This makes training critical, especially for frontline staff members, says John Findlay, chief executive and founder of digital learning company LemonadeLXP, based in Ontario, Canada. “If their staff doesn’t bank with them, they don’t use the technologies on offer and it’s pretty difficult for them to promote them to customers,” he says. It’s also difficult for them to answer customer questions. Brian McNutt, U.S. vice president of product management at Dutch engagement platform Backbase, says banks should incentivize their staff to actually use their services as much as possible. One approach is to offer special rates or deals to employees, he says. “I think that really the most important thing is that they are customers themselves. There’s really no replacement for that. For somebody to really be able to empathize or understand customers, they have to experience the products themselves.”

The Future of Software Engineering: Transformation With Generative AI

The application of Generative AI in software engineering is not just a technical enhancement but a fundamental change in how software is conceptualized, developed, and maintained. This section delves into the key themes that underline this transformative integration, elucidating the diverse ways in which Generative AI is reshaping the field. Generative AI is revolutionizing the way code is written and maintained. AI models can now understand programming queries in natural language and translate them into efficient code, significantly reducing the time and effort required from human developers. This has several implications:Enhanced productivity: Developers can focus on complex problem-solving rather than spending time on routine coding tasks. Learning and development: AI models can suggest best coding practices and offer real-time guidance, acting as a learning tool for novice programmers. Code quality improvement: With AI's ability to analyze vast codebases, it can recommend optimizations and improvements, leading to higher quality and more maintainable code.

Reports: China’s Alibaba Shuts Down Quantum Lab

DoNews reported this week that Alibaba’s DAMO Academy –Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook — has closed down its quantum laboratory due to budget and profitability reasons. The budget ax claimed more than 30 people — possible among China’s brightest quantum researchers — lost their positions, according to the news outlet’s internal sources. For further claims of proof, DoNews reports that the official website of DAMO Academy has also removed the introduction page of the quantum laboratory. According to the story, translated into English: “Insiders claimed that Alibaba’s DAMO Academy Quantum Laboratory had undergone significant layoffs, but it was not clear at that time whether the entire quantum computing team had been disbanded.” Media further suggest that many of the DAMO Academy quantum team members who were laid off have begun to send their resumes to other companies. According to The Quantum Insider’s China’s Quantum Computing Market brief, Alibaba is a diverse tech conglomerate that has been active in quantum since 2015. The company’s Quantum Lab Academy teaching employees and students about the prospects of quantum computing.

It’s time the industry opts for collaborative manufacturing

The transition from an analogue factory to a digital one underscores the necessity of a coherent and efficient digital infrastructure. This transformation extends beyond the primary tasks of manufacturing, adding efficiency at every stage, including the cutting room. Investments in IoT-enabled machinery, though costly, can lead to significant improvements in output and efficiency. ... The technology underlines the importance of integrated planning software, which aids in production planning, order flow management and the efficient consumption of raw materials.” As technology continues to evolve and digitisation gains ground, an important question emerges while making the roadmap: What are the social implications of this technological revolution? In a city like Bengaluru and its surrounding manufacturing hubs, more than 3.5 million women toil in the garment industry, forming the majority of the workforce. Their livelihoods hinge on operating sewing machines, a vocation they might continue for the next two decades. 

The Digital Revolution in Banking: Exploring the Future of Finance

As banks continue to close their physical branches, it becomes crucial to balance the convenience of digital banking and the personalized service that customers crave. While online banking has become increasingly popular, some still prefer the in-person experience of visiting their local branch and interacting with staff. This is especially important when it comes to welcoming new customers. To address this, emerging technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), may offer a solution to bridge the gap between digital convenience and personalized service. Imagine you are a banking executive looking for ways to improve your customer experience. You know that digital banking is the future, but you also understand that some customers still crave the personalized service of visiting a physical branch. This is where augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) come in. By incorporating AR into your mobile app, you can enhance the interface and provide customers with more information in an immersive way. 

Quote for the day:

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out." -- Robert Collier

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